Instructables

How to Run the SparkTruck Vibrobots Workshop

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This is a classic and staple SparkTruck workshop. It doesn't actually require any high-tech tools on the truck, and all the materials you need can fit into a small bin! This makes the Vibrobots workshop great to run for your students even if you don't have any specialized equipment around.

This experience is a great blend of art and science, since it allows your students both to learn about motors and batteries, and also express themselves creatively through the invention of a unique creature.

This workshop can take as little as 45 minutes, or can stretch to almost 1hr 30 min, depending on how quickly you choose to move through the steps and how much warmup/debrief you'd like to include. We've found this workshop easy to squeeze between the bells in a regular school day schedule.

Quick stats:
Total time required: 1 hour
Number of facilitators: 1 per 10 students
Number of students: 40 maximum
Age of students: ~10 years old, +/- 4 (but grownups love it, too!)

 
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Step 1: Prep

Here's what you need to have handy:

Tools

  • Sharpies
  • Scissors
  • Safety glasses

Materials

  • Pager motors (1 per student)
  • Coin cell batteries (1 per student)
  • 8.5x11" plain paper
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Masking or painter's tape (we like this stuff because it comes in skinny widths)
  • Misc craft supplies:
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Self-adhesive googly eyes
    • Craft feathers
    • Aluminum foil
    • Paper clips
    • Construction paper
    • Foam sheets
    • Small pom-poms
    • Etc... really, anything works here!
      • But we advise against glue and glitter. Messy, messy.

Before the workshop starts, you want to strip the wires of the motors so about 1/2" of naked wire is exposed.

To set up, we like to use our three 8' Lifetime tables, and set them up in a large U (no chairs), designating one table or a part of a table as the "testing arena." Distribute Sharpies and paper on the tables, so they're ready when the students start. Have the rest of the materials handy nearby.

Step 2: Warm-up

We like to do something fun & physical to get the blood flowing and get the students ready to learn and engage. You can get creative here - name games, jumping jacks, making animal sounds, etc.—anything works.