Looking for a way to get kids designing and building their own simple robots? With just a Circuit Playground Express (CPX), a servo motor, and a few household materials, anyone can create a Cardboard Inchworm that meets the "sense-think-act" definition of a robot! Here's how:
- The Cardboard Inchworm can sense a loud sound using the audio sensor (microphone) built into the CPX.
- Then it can think about how to react, thanks to the CPX's powerful microcontroller brain.
- Finally, it can act by triggering the servo motor to repeatedly pull the front and back of the Inchworm together and letting them slide apart, creating a slow but steady crawling motion.
The Inchworm is quick to build, and Microsoft MakeCode makes it super-easy to program! And it also lends itself to multiple variations in materials and structure. See if you can figure out how to make your Inchworm go even faster and crawl over more kinds of surfaces!
When you're done, it's also easy to remove the CPX and accessories and use them in another project. The rest of the Inchworm can be recycled. That's why programmable cardboard robots are a great first electronics project for kids and beginners!
The Circuit Playground Express Base Kit is a good choice for this project, because it comes with the USB cable to program the board, a battery holder, and three AAA batteries. Or, to get all the electronics you need for this project (plus many more beginning robotics activities), get the Bots! book and parts bundle. You can also buy the Circuit Playground Express and accessories separately.
Other supplies you will need include:
- 1 strip of sturdy cardboard roughly 14 inches by 4.5 inches -- thin corrugated cardboard works well
- masking tape
- adhesive dots -- extra strength is best
- peel-and-stick Velcro dots
- 1 large metal paper clip
- (optional) googly eyes