The Need For The Lesson
There is a growing need for engineers in our ever changing world. NGSS engineering standards for middle school provide a framework for developing student understanding of the engineering design process.
This is a great lesson to remind students about electrical circuits. The Next Generation Science Standards have students exploring circuits in Grade 4 and not in middle school. This lesson gives students an opportunity to put into practice a skill they learned in Grade 4 so it remains fresh.
This is also a good lesson for developing “grit”. The lesson does not provide students with correct, step-by-step instructions for creating and testing the scribble bot. There will be students who struggle, and you will want to encourage them to be persistent in problem solving. Engineering activities are about challenging students to work through the engineering design process until they are successful.
Scribble bots are free standing structures powered by a simple little battery, built by children, that can make marks on paper.
Scribble machines are fun projects that combine arts and crafts with the basics of circuitry. Using
commonplace items, students build robots that draw as they move. We use scribble machines to:
• Introduce students to basic circuitry.
• Develop students’ persistence through trial and error.
• Facilitate discovery through observation and inquiry.
• Explore creative design.
This guide offers methods for using scribble machines as a teaching tool, as well as a variety of
scribble machine designs and building tips. The teaching methods presented are designed to keep
students engaged through inquiry, and give them ownership of their learning.
The materials used for scribble machines are incredibly open-ended. With the exception of
batteries, markers, and motors, almost any items can be used or substituted to create unique,
dynamic scribblers. The following list offers some of the basic materials that we frequently use.
• Hobby motors
• AA Batteries
• Plastic cups/Berry baskets
• Rubber bands
• Twist ties
• Hot glue sticks
• Masking tape