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Scribblebot design

You will need:

  • 1 x small DC motor that operates off 1.5 volts
  • 10cm of insulated wire
  • 3 felt tip pens and a roll of insulation tape
  • Paper, scissors and cardboard
  • Optional: battery terminal, switch, soldering iron & solder plus hot glue gun & glue stick

    scribblebot on paper



  1. Cut the insulated wire into 2 x 3 cm lengths. Strip each end of the wire using wire strippers.
  2. Attach the wire to the motor (you could solder these connections to make them stronger)
  3. Turn the cup upside down. Tape the battery onto the top of the cup, leaving the battery terminal ends exposed.
  4. Tape one of the insulated wires exposed ends onto a battery terminal, leaving the other wire hanging free. On the other side of battery, add some tape that hangs loose off the terminal so that you can tape the other insulated wire onto that wire to turn on the motor when needed. Of course, you could add a switch and a battery holder to make this easier but this design is made to miminize as much equipment as possible!

    top of scribblebot showing battery terminals & connections
    Top of the scribble bot, showing battery connections to the motor
  5. You'll notice in the above photo that there is a disc attached to the motor shaft. You can create that by cutting our a circle of paper and attaching this to a strip of cardboard. This can now attach to the motor shaft. If you want the connection to be a bit more permanent you could use some hot glue. 

    Disc back on a scribble bot
    How to attach the disc to the motor without using hot glue
  6. You can draw on the front of the disc to either create a Newton colour wheel (rainbow wheel which spins to create white) or perhaps a Benham's disc (black & white wheel which seems to create colour as it spins!). In this case we put a benham's disc on the scribblebot.

    benhams disc on scribblebot
    Benham's disc on the scribblebot
  7. Finally, tape some felt tip pens onto the sides of the cup. You're ready to do some scribblebot drawing!

    Finished scribblebot!

Why does this work?

This experiment takes advantage of having an uneven weight spinning on a motor that is not in the center of the robot's balance. Spinning the uneven weight causes the motor to vibrate rapidly and this force is transferred to the body of the Scribblebot. As you also put the motor away from the center of the robot's balance the robot can move.

Try placing the motor in different positions on the scribblebot (eg. facing upwards). you could also decorate the scribblebot in other ways... check out these scribble bots made by students recently for a science fair at the Peninsular Community of Schools in Sydney.

Scribblebots at Peninsula Community of Schools
Scribblebots at the Peninsular Community of Schools in Sydney science fair


Spinning objects that are unbalanced cause a lot of vibration. When you get your car's wheels balanced at the mechanic small weights are added to the rim of the tyre so that the weight is evenly distributed. This prevents unnecessary wear on the shock absorbers, struts and steering assembly of the car caused by the vibrations of unbalanced wheels (plus reduces tyre wear too!). Balancing your car's tyres makes your car safer to drive.

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Be Amazing!
How to teach science, the way primary kids love

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