Challenge the children to design and build a robot that does something to help us.
Early Learning Goal links
Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present – Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
Understanding the World ELG: People, Culture and Communities – Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps;
Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Robot, robotics, machine, mechanical, programme, language, directions, commands, algorithms, forwards, backwards, left, right, up, down, turn, under, over, build, design, create, join, attach, components, equipment
What to do
Put the junk model robot and/or our junk model robot provocation and materials out for the children to use. This could be in your creative area or on a table by itself. You might also want to display the robotics engineer poster.
Tell the children that they are going to be creative like robotics engineers and make their own robot.
Challenge the children to create a robot that can do a job to help us. This may be somewhere familiar such as in our homes, at the shops, at the park or in the school or nursery. This maybe somewhere from the children’s imaginations, such as in space, up a mountain or deep underwater.
You could ask the children to design the robots on paper first, or they could get stuck into the building straight away.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
- What will your robot do to help us?
- Which special tools and equipment might it need?
- How will you make those?
- Which items will you choose to build with?
- How could you fasten that together?
- Will your robot be able to move?
- How will it move? Does it need wheels, legs, or feet?
- Can it fly or dive under water? What will to build so that your robot can do that?
- Will your robot need a body? How about arms?
- Will your robot need any buttons, dials or screens to control it?
- How will you give your robot instructions?
- Have you designed the robot that you wanted? Could you make it even better?
Other things to try
You could give the children specific jobs that you would like their robots to do, such as cleaning the toilets, fetching balls off a roof, hanging the washing out or other jobs that may need doing in your setting or at home. Compare the different designs for the same job that the children come up with.
You could also try building robots with different construction materials.
Remember to refer to the children as robotics engineers and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“You have been creative like a robotics engineer and have designed and built a robot…”
The science of robots
We have put together some useful information about the science of robots to accompany this activity. Don’t worry, this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
What is a robot?
A robot is a mechanical device that can be programmed to carry out tasks automatically. Robots have replaced humans in doing many repetitive and dangerous tasks. Although robots are often defined as machines that are programmed by a computer to carry out a series of tasks automatically, robots are different to machines as they are autonomous, or capable of making decisions. Unlike an ordinary machine like a washing machine that can be programmed to complete tasks automatically, a robot often has sensors that detect light, sound and touch. With the help of the sensors, robots are able to recognise different inputs from it’s working environment. A robot can use data collected from its sensors to detect when a state has changed and then take appropriate actions that will be safe for the environment. An example of a household robot is the Roomba vacuum cleaner, which automatically cleans the floors around your house, sensing obstructions and changing direction.
What you’ll need
- Example junk model robot and/or Junk model robot provocation
- Paper and pens if you want to design robots first
- Junk modelling materials- clean and empty cereal boxes, yogurt pots, kitchen roll tubes etc
- The robotics engineer poster
- 10 – 15 minutes or so