Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Doruk. Doruk Wonders, “How to make a robot.” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Doruk!

When do you think life will be like 50 years from now? Will we have flying cars? Will there be humans on Mars? Will robots have taken over the world? Millions of robots already exist. But don‘t worry! It’s unlikely that they’ll rise up to take over Earth.

What comes to mind when you envision a robot? Do you think of machines that act and look like human beings? What about smart speakers you can talk to? How about vacuum cleaners that move around on their own? Are those robots?

Like art, robots are hard to define. Some scientists say robots are devices that can carry out instructed tasks. Robots are very useful. They can do things that are too difficult, dangerous, or repetitive for humans to do well. For example, robots can do many tasks in factories more quickly and accurately than humans. Likewise, the Mars rovers can explore Mars when it would be too dangerous for humans to do so.

Do you have any robots in your home or school? You might be surprised how common they are! Most robots are simple and practical. Some examples include vending machines, robotic arms used in factories, and remote control toys. Of course, there are also very complex robots, such as the Mars exploration rovers made by NASA.

Have you ever dreamed of making your own robot? What would it do? Could your robot play games with you? Make meals? Maybe even help with your chores? There are many possibilities! When building a robot, it’s important to think about four characteristics. These include senses, movement, energy, and intelligence.

Robots must be able to sense things around them. Unlike people, they don’t have eyes, ears, noses, or hands to help them. Instead, robots have sensors. One of the first steps in building a robot is thinking about what sensors it will need. Does it need to sense light? How about pressure? Some robots also need to sense chemicals and sound. It all depends on what the robot will need to do.

Many robots also need to be able to move. There are many ways to give a robot movement. Very advanced robots sometimes have legs. More simple robots have wheels. But remember, any robot that moves needs energy! Just like people, robots can‘t function well without energy. How can robots be powered? Some possibilities are a battery or a solar panel.

Finally, robots must have intelligence. Does that mean a robot needs to be able to solve advanced math problems? No, not at all! Instead, intelligence just means the robot should be able to follow directions. Intelligence is often tied to the robots senses. They can be programmed with instructions to carry out after sensing light, pressure, or sound. That‘s why voice assistants answer when you say their names!

Does building a robot sound difficult? It can actually be quite simple and affordable. Scientists and teachers have made many tools to help. Budding engineers can find plenty of instructions and tips online to get started. It‘s easier than ever to explore the world of robots!

So what are you waiting for? Get building! The world needs more robots and more people to build them. Maybe you’ll be the person to develop the next groundbreaking robot that will quickly and accurately do homework! OK, maybe that’s a bit ambitious. But we bet you can imagine something really cool and fun to build!

Standards: NGSS.ETS1.A, NGSS.ETS1.B, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1

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