Junk Drawer Robotics
4-H Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow
The 4-H Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow curriculum is designed in three tracks. In Track 1 (Virtual Robotics), youth can participate using the virtual activities on-line or via a DVD-ROM. Track 2 (Junk Drawer Robotics) encourages youth to use household materials to engineer robotic designs. In Track 3 (Platforms) youth with access to specific educational robotics platforms (Lego, VEX, Robotix, etc.). More information on this national curriculum may be found at http://www.4-h.org/resource-library/curriculum/4-h-robotics/.
State 4-H Contact: Steven Worker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junk Drawer Robotics
Junk Drawer Robotics engages middle school youth in engineering design through the use of common household items. The curriculum was developed to focus on scientific and engineering practices; frame activities in the experiential learning cycle; and promote small group collaborative learning (Mahacek & Worker, 2011). The 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics program offers a useful way of engaging youth in engineering design using robotics. In each module, youth learn about an underlying scientific or engineering concept related to robotics. As youth progress through the curriculum, their knowledge of the multidisciplinary nature of robotics grows. At the end of the three levels, youth design and build a robot using what they have learned.
Level 1: Give Robots a Hand
In this level youth will be exploring and learning about robot arms. The arm is one of the most useful and imitated parts of the human body. It is flexible with joints; shoulder, elbow, wrist, that allow it to be placed in many positions to reach and grab. The hand with its fingers and thumb can grab, hold, pick up, and more. Designs for robot arms can allow a robot to be used to grab, lift, move, or position items into a machine, to control a spot welder, or to assemble parts for an item.
Mobile robots make up an array of applications allowing robots to go and do things in locations and situations that humans would not like or could not go. Mobile robots can go into dangerous situations, can fly, go under water, traverse remote areas or planets, carry instruments and sensors, and much more. In this level youthwill explore legged, wheeled, and underwater robots. We will explore friction, basic electrical power and motors, engineering constraints, gears systems, and buoyancy.
Level 3: Mechatronics
For greater control and usefulness, robots merge mechanical objects with electronic components. In this level, youth will explore components of electronic devices and basic programming elements. Various sensors will be used to help robots explore the world and react in programmed control.
Each model contains a number of activities in these phases:
|To Learn: Science is finding out how things work. These activities emphasize exploration and form the foundation upon which youth build conceptual understanding.|
|To Do: Engineering is designing something to work from what you discovered. These activities build upon the knowledge gained in the exploration phase related to the concepts in the module. Youth are presented with a design problem and work together to design and plan a solution.|
|To Make: Technology is using tools and processes to make something work. These activities
allow youth to build and test their design while solidifying their understanding of the concepts.
4-H Robotics Showcase, August 2012
Basic Starter Set of Activity Supplies
Tools and Supplies
Learn more about Junk Drawer Robotics:
- 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics - Activity Supply Spreadsheet with suggested vendors
- Junk Drawer Robotics Flyer
- 4-H Robotics - It’s about more than the robots!
- Robotics Project Sheet
- JDR Handout 7-23-2014
- Facilitating Junk Drawer Robotics
- Junk Drawer Robotics Activity Supplies
- Junk Drawer Robotics Toolbox
- JDR Poster for Galaxy Conference in September 2013
- 2012 - CA4-H - Enhancing Science Education with Engineering and Technology Practices
- 2011 - CA4-H - Junk Drawer Robotics
Publications & Reports
- 2013 - Evaluation Report for 4-H Robotics Nationally
- 2013 - Evaluation Report for 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics in California 4-H
- Children's Technology and Engineering - 4-H Out-of-School Time STEM Education (2013)
- UC Delivers: 4-H develops Junk Drawer Robotics to teach youth science and engineering
- ISTE Learning Connections - No Robotics in School? 4-H Can Help! (2011)
- Mechanical Engineering - Growing a new crop of engineers (2008)
- Chapter 7: Mahacek, R. & Worker, S. (2011). Extending science education with engineering and technology: Junk drawer robotics curriculum. In A. Subramaniam, K. Heck, R. Carlos, & S. Junge (Eds.), Advances in youth development: Research and evaluation from the University of California Cooperative Extension 2001-2010 (pp. 46-57). Davis, CA: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.