Build Your Own Robot Arm

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In this lesson, learners develop a robot arm using common materials. Learners explore design, construction, and teamwork, as well as materials selection and use. The robot arm must be at least 18 inches in length and must be able to pick up an empty Styrofoam cup. Teams of learners must agree on a design for the robot arm and identify what materials will be used. Learners will draw a sketch of their design prior to construction. Resulting robot arms are then tested and checked for range of motion and satisfaction of the given criteria. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3" wide and approx. 22" long strips of cardboard-- 5 or so
  • Binder clips (different sizes)-- 8 or more
  • Brads-- 10
  • Clothespins-- 6
  • Craft sticks-- 10 to 15
  • Fishing line-- 3 to 4 feet
  • Hangers-- 1 or 2
  • Paper clips (diff. Sizes)-- 10 to 15
  • Pencils-- 3 to 4
  • Rubber bands (different sizes)--15
  • Tape-- clear and masking (partial rolls should be fine)
  • Twine-- 3 to 4 feet
  • Handout
  • Styrofoam cup
  • Various size scraps of cardboard--10


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Computing
      • Computer Science
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Teachers TryScience


  • All rights reserved, Teachers TryScience, 2012