Strawbots: Robots with Strawbees and Pager Motors

Written by: admin@makezilla

Picture of Strawbots: Robots with Strawbees and Pager Motors

Strawbees are plastic connectors that you can use to make models from 6mm drinking straws. The resulting models are lightweight and make a good basis for a simple buzz bot robot using a pager motor and coin cell battery.

You can hold a Strawbot challenge and see who can make their Strawbot go the fastest in a straight line (the straight line part is a challenge!)

This is a fun invention activity for children, teens and adults. You could set up a challenge by giving each participant or team the same set of materials and then running a competition.

You will need:

  • Strawbees: a mix of different types
  • 6mm drinking straws including some bendy ones
  • Mini pancake pager motors (one per Strawbot)
  • Compatible coin cell batteries, typically 3V
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors

Warning: This project uses coin cell batteries so children should be closely supervised.

Step 1: Make Your Strawbot

Picture of Make Your Strawbot

Use Strawbees and straws to make a robot from straws. We've seen lots of different designs. Low to the ground, tall, simple and fancy. See what you can come up with.

Step 2: Add the Pager Motor

Picture of Add the Pager Motor

Connect the black wire of the pager motor to the negative side of the coin cell battery and the red wire to the positive side. Check that your motor is working and then use sticky tape to attach it to your Strawbot. If your motor has an adhesive pad then you can use that, otherwise, more sticky tape.

You'll need to make sure that the wires are making a good connection. You may need to strip them back a bit to expose more wire and make a better connection. Also, make sure the sticky tape is nice and tight.

Step 3: Try it Out

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Strawbots work best on a flat surface like a wooden floor. They will find bumps difficult to navigate. You could build coping with bumps into the challenge if you don't have a flat surface.

If you want to temporarily stop your Strawbot, just pull a wire out. You can pop it back in later.

Step 4: Competition Time

Picture of Competition Time

Now you can race your Strawbots or have them compete in challenges. Or for younger children you can just have fun playing with them.

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