Make your own painting Art-Robot: Inspired by “Ada Lace Sees Red”

One of the best ways to bring a new activity into your kid’s life is to be inspired by a special book. After reading Ada Lace Sees Red, (SPOILER ALERT) which features a robot that can paint (and an intelligent heroine), my daughter couldn’t get enough, so I thought I’d expand her love of the book by helping her make her own art-bot.

This project uses a vibrating motor to wiggle a cup attached to paint brushes. Other variations of vibrobots include bots that vibrate a scrub brush (bristlebots) and bots with markers for coloring!

Anna really likes taping things.

Materials

Note: Instead of using a motor with a nut, you can alternately just buy a vibrating motor. I prefer making it from a normal motor because we can also use the motor for other things that don’t involve vibration, whereas vibrating motors can only be used for vibrating things.

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Procedure

  1. Securely tape the bolt nut to one side of the motor shaft. As the motor spins, the nut will cause it to be unbalanced, making the whole thing vibrate.
  2. Hook up your circuit (including a switch if you would like). Be sure to follow the directions on the motor you purchase, as incorrect wiring can cause things to get hot or spark.
  3. Add the battery and test your motor, making sure the nut is securely affixed so it doesn’t fly off.
  4. Flip the cup upside-down and tape 3-4 paintbrushes around it so it can stand up on the brush ends (see picture above with markers as an example).
  5. Tape the battery terminal and motor to the cup, ensuring the nut has room to move around.
  6. Test out your bot to make sure everything is affixed securely.
  7. Dip the brushes into paint, put it on paper, then turn it on!

This can also be done with markers, which are less messy than paint, or crayons, which are even less messy than markers. After you’re done making art, try attaching your eccentric motor to something else, like a scrub brush or dry mop!

Book Inspiration- Ada Lace: Sees Red

From the publisher:

From Emily Calandrelli—host of Xploration Outer Space, correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World, and graduate of MIT—comes the second novel in a brand-new chapter book series about an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, math, and solving mysteries with technology.

Ada Lace is building a new robot! She’s determined to beat Milton in the upcoming robotics competition. But she’s distracted—Ada finds her dad’s art class impossible, while Nina is the star of the class, basking in the glory of being Mr. Lace’s star pupil.

When Mr. Lace suggests that Nina put on an art show, Ada becomes jealous and loses her temper. Now Ada isn’t speaking to her dad, she’s falling behind in art class, and she still doesn’t know how to fix her robot. As the competition looms closer, Ada starts to wonder if there might be a way to use both science and art to solve her problems.

Will Ada make up with her father in time to test her hypothesis? Or will her hurt feelings leave her seeing red and without a medal at the end of the day?


Ada Lace Adventures is a series about a girl who uses science to help solve problems and mysteries. It is intended for readers ages 8+, but I read them a chapter at a time to my young daughter. The books are not in-your-face nerdy at all, as Ada is just an ordinary girl who likes science. I like that these books counter the stereotypical dorky science character that we frequently see. They are well written, fun to read, and a great addition to your chapter book library.

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