Make a Wobblebot (A BEAM robot)
Look at this little wobbler. If we were being formal we'd address her/him as a BEAM Wobblebot. BEAM is an interesting branch of robotics in which the robots do not have controllers or complicated electronics but still can respond to things in the world such as light or the space around them.
Wobblebot has no battery. All its energy comes direct from the solar panel, which is wired straight to the motor. Shine a strong light on the the panel and electricity is generated that turns the motor. The spindle of the motor rests directly on the ground and as it moves it spins the whole robot around. Wobbletastic!
So could these be made with a class of children? Well they could, but the motor I've used is not really sensitive enough to respond to anything other than a 240v 60Watt traditional bulb. I think it would be much better if it would respond to a strong battery light so I'm going to see if I can find a more sensitive motor/solar panal combination. I'll post the details up here if I do.
Although I stuck mine together with hot melt glue, you could easily use those sticky pads to attach the motor to the CD. The robot body is made from a plastic tub (an old humous tub might be ideal). Just make a hole in the bottom to allow the wires from the solar panel through. Stick the tub to the CD with sticky tape and use blutac to attach the solar panel to the top.
I love the way wobblebot moves erratically. However, there are sometimes behaviour patterns that children might be able to identify. for different levels of light intensity. Happy wobbling!
What will children learn?
Digital devices have inputs, outputs and a controller. This has two of these but is not a digital device since it doesn't have a controller that would allow it to follow a program. Constructing a wobblebots allows children to consider what a digital device is.