Brownie Designing Robots Badge Activity
Design A Robot
Discover how engineers have been inspired by humans, animals, and nature. Then, design your own robot inspired by a bumblebee!
Time needed: 25 minutes
- Paper (large, if possible)
- Markers, crayons, or pencils
Engineers look at how humans and animals do certain actions when they're deciding what they want their robots to do. This helps engineers think of creative ways to design their robots. Biomimicry is when an engineer makes a robot or machine that looks or acts like a human, animal, or plant.
In this activity, you’ll explore how engineers create robots that look just like us. Then, you’ll design your own robot inspired by a bumblebee!
Part 1: Learn about biomimicry.
First, imagine any kind of robot you’re familiar with. See if you can answer these questions:
- What does it look like? What do other robots look like?
- What makes the robot different from a human? What makes you different from a robot?
- What can robots do that you can do? What can you do that robots can't?
A lot of the time, when we think of robots, we picture shiny metal figures that kind of look like humans. They have heads, bodies, arms, and legs, just like us. This is called biomimicry. Biomimicry is when someone makes a machine that looks or acts like a human, animal, or plant.
To see how it works, pretend to be a robot that’s been created with biomimicry! Can you stand up and move like:
- …a machine that can fly like a bird?
- …a machine that can eat leaves off the tops of trees, like a giraffe?
- …a machine that can dig tunnels in the ground, like a mole?
- …a robot figure skater?
- …a robot weightlifter?
- …a robot basketball player?
Engineers study how humans and animals do certain actions when they're deciding what they want their robots to do. This helps engineers think of creative ways to design their robots. For example, an engineer might sketch how humans form different poses or look at how an animal moves.
To see biomicricy in action, search for videos online!
Part 2: Design a robot inspired by biomimicry.
Next, you’re going to design a robot inspired by a bumblebee. Find a comfortable place to sit outside or inside near a window so that you can be inspired by the nature around you.
First, look at the sky and imagine you’re a bumblebee. Think about all the different things bumblebees do. For example, they fly, make honey, and might sting humans!
Did you know that one of the most important things bumblebees do is pollinate flowers and plants? Pollen is the powdery stuff on a flower that comes off if you touch it. Bees carry the pollen from one plant to another. By moving pollen between plants, bumblebees help plants grow new plants.
Unfortunately, there are many fewer bees today than there were years ago. This is a big problem because we wouldn't have plants or vegetables without bees, and we need them to survive.
So, do you think can you help solve the problem? Create a robot inspired by the bumblebee that can help us pollinate plants.
As you draw your robot, ask yourself questions like:
- What would the robot look like?
- What would the robot have to be able to do?
- How would a robot pollinate a plant?
Here are some ideas to get started on your own design:
- Robot look: wings, antenna, stinger, strips, yellow and black, etc.
- Robot features: wings can help the robot move, the stinger can help carry pollen, etc.
Once your design is ready, share it with your family and friends. They can give ideas and feedback to make your design even better!
Great job! You just worked like an engineer to design a robot inspired by a bumblebee. You brainstormed solutions and created a model that features biomimicry. Not only did your robots look like bumblebees, they helped do the job of the bumblebee too!
And that’s it! You’ve now completed a step of the Brownie Designing Robots badge! If you had fun doing this, you might want to learn more about robots and design your own with the rest of the Brownie Robotics badges.
Troop Leaders: The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.
Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.
Adapted from step 1 of the Brownie Designing Robots badge. Contact your troop leader or your local Girl Scout council to become a Girl Scout member and learn all the requirements needed to earn the badge.