CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line

Students use a small motor and simple materials to create a line-drawing robot and experiment with how to change the way the lines are drawn. Later they use a variety of materials to create a body with robot characteristics and paint it with contrasting colours.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Visual Arts


balance contrast eccentric motor electric circuit form robot


Acrylic Paint Paint Brushes Glitter Glue Hobby Motor - 9 volts, 2mm shaft Duct Tape Plastic Container Cork 2AA Battery Holder with Wires and Switch Markers Assorted Found Materials and Containers Googly Eyes Water Containers Paper Towels Hot Glue Guns Hot Glue Sticks White Glue

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CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step One

Step One

  1. Remove some of the plastic coating from the ends of the wires on the 2AA battery holder.
  2. Join the wires to the loops on the motor.
  3. Turn the battery switch on to test if it works.
CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose several colours of marker.
  2. Place a piece of duct tape at the mid-point on one of the markers with the ends of the tape sticking out.
CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place the marker with the tip facing down and at a slight angle.
  2. Tape it to the plastic container.
  3. Tape 4 or 5 markers around the outer edge of the plastic container.
  4. Make sure the tips all touch the table surface when the container is placed upright.
CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Tape the 2AA battery holder to the side of the plastic container.
  2. Tape the motor to the top edge of the plastic container.
  3. Make sure the shaft of the motor hangs over the edge of the container.
  4. Push a cork, off centre, onto the shaft of the motor.
  5. Make sure it is good and secure.
CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Place the craybot on top of a large piece of paper.
  2. Turn it on and see what happens.
  3. Experiment with where you place the cork on the shaft to see how that changes the kinds of lines the craybot makes.
CRAYBOT – Creating a Drawing Machine, Form, Line - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Use other containers and acrylic paint to create a body for the craybot.
  2. Attach the body to the base.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a motorized robot that draws a variety of lines;
  • correctly wire a small motor to a battery pack;
  • use contrasting colours and a variety of materials to create a body with robot characteristics;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • experiment with other materials and designs to create different line patterns by changing how the robot moves, for example, how can they make something that will roll or hop while making marks;
  • collaborate to innovate and delve deeper into making other kinds of robots based on what they have learned;
  • share their designs with the class and discuss their processes.


  1. Gather a variety of empty plastic containers and or tins.
  2. Download and display the Form and Contrast Posters available on this website.
  3. Gather, and make available, books about robots, for example, The Robot Book: Build & Control 20 Electric Gizmos, Moving Machines, and Hacked Toys, by Bobby Mercer; Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 20 Projects (Build It Yourself), by Kathy Ceceri, and Sam Carbaugh; Making Simple Robots: Exploring Cutting-Edge Robotics with Everyday Stuff, by Kathy Ceceri; Making Things Move DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists (Electronics), by Dustyn Roberts; and Making Simple Automata, by Robert Race.
  4. Download images of robots in art from the Internet for example,
    Robot Doodle
    Master Robot
    Star Shooter
    Mini Robot
  5. Download images of robots in industry from the Internet for example,
    Drawing Robot
    Mini Maker
    Manufacturing Robot
  6. Prepare a sample of the working mechanism of the craybot for demonstration purposes.


  1. Ask students what they know about robots.
  2. View and discuss an image of robots in industry. Ask students to think about why robots are important and how they are changing how we do things.
  3. Display several images of robots in art alongside each other.
  4. Ask students to look at the works closely for a minute.
  5. Share first impressions of the images.
  6. Ask students to compare the images.
    - How are they the same?
    - How are they different?
  7. Ask students to think about what characteristics they would include if they were designing a robot.
  8. Demonstrate how the craybot works, pointing out the motor, battery pack and cork.
  9. Discuss the way the cork causes the motor to be unbalanced, and the effect this has on how the robot moves.
  10. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a motorized robot that draws a variety of lines.
  2. Correctly wire a small motor to a battery pack.
  3. Use contrasting colours and a variety of materials to create a body with robot characteristics.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when:
    - the motor is wired correctly
    - the robot draws a variety of lines
    - contrast is used effectively
    - the robot body is made of a variety of materials
    - the robot has characteristics of a robot
    - the robot is in good condition
  3. Encourage students to add their own personal touch to their robot.
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why.
    - Talk about what they found satisfying about doing this project.
    - Talk about what they found challenging about doing this project and how they solved their problems.
    - Talk about how they might use what they learned in a different way.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the robots – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Robots_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Robot_self-assessment.pdf)