7 Fun Robotics Activities for High School Students

From self-checkout machines at grocery stores to smartphones to self-driving cars, robots are becoming increasingly present in our daily lives. This presence of robotics in various industries is expected to grow in the future along with the advancement of technology. This leads to an increasing demand for skilled professionals in this field. 

Robotics is an exciting and innovative career option for high school students who are curious and interested in science and technology and how things work. If this sounds like you, then this is a sign for you to start exploring and learning about the field. 

So, to help you get started learning about robots, we’ve curated a list of fun activities through which you can learn to build and program robots yourself.  These activities will give you hands-on experience, help you find what interests you most about robots, and get you ready for a future filled with awesome inventions! 

Students can focus on some specific courses and subjects from their high school to prepare for their career in robotics. It will help build a solid foundation of the basic concepts for more advanced topics. To start with the same, students should focus on the following core areas:

  1. Mathematics: Concepts of mathematics play the most crucial role in the field of robotics. A student should be very strong in the concepts like algebra, calculus, geometry, and trigonometry. These concepts are essential in various aspects of robotics such as robot modeling, control, mechanism, kinematics, and dynamics.
  1. Science: Concepts of physics, and chemistry form the basics of robotics. A solid understanding of these concepts and scientific principles is critical in robotics to design, build, and program effective robotic systems. 
  1. Computer Science and Programming: Students should study and focus on learning programming languages like C++, python, and Robot C. An understanding of coding language and programming is essential in robotics to control robots, develop algorithms, and create innovative solutions.
  1. Technical or Vocational Classes: These classes provide a hands-on learning experience. Students should participate actively in these classes as these complement the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom and let students work on real robotics projects. This helps to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and troubleshooting abilities which are key skills required for a career in robotics.

Having strong basics helps students handle advanced concepts with little difficulty. Additionally, students should start with simpler projects and activities and gradually move towards complex ones. This helps them slowly grasp the topics by effectively building on the already learned subject matter. Having said that, the following are some activities listed on the scale of simple to complex ones for high school students to try: 

1. Robotic Arm

This is a very simple and basic robotics activity for high schoolers to start their learning about the subject. This activity introduces students to basic robotics concepts, hydraulics, and engineering design. 

In this activity, students have to make a robotic arm with the help of cardboard and syringes that can move and grasp objects. The syringes are filled with water to create a hydraulic system and a battery can be used to provide power to this hydraulic system. As the syringes are pushed or pulled, the hydraulic pressure moves the arm’s links, which helps it move and grasp the objects.

This is a basic and low-cost activity that encourages problem-solving, creativity, and hands-on learning about robotics.

2. Bristlebot

This activity is a great introductory robotics project for high school students. It is simple to build and introduces important concepts of motors and vibration. 

In this activity, students will make a simple robot using readily available materials like a toothbrush, a coin cell battery, and a small motor. When the battery is connected to the motor, the vibrations from the motor cause the bristles of the toothbrush to move rapidly which propels the robot forward. 

With the help of this project, students can learn how to make robots using everyday objects. The project teaches hands-on engineering skills as well as problem-solving skills as students troubleshoot to get their bristlebot working properly.

3. Artbot

This is an engaging project for students because it combines STEM concepts with art and creativity. Just like the bristlebot made in the above project, this project demonstrates how robots can be used for purposes beyond just moving around. 

In this activity, students have to create a simple robot that can draw or create art using a paintbrush or markers as it moves around. It consists of a motor, battery, markers, or brushes, and a lightweight object like a plastic cup. 

When the vibrations from the motor cause the artbot to move, the paintbrushes or markers used create unique scribbles and drawings on the paper or the surface on which it moves. This project will also introduce students to basic programming concepts as they experiment with the Artbot’s movements.

4. Motion Activated Robot

This activity will help students explore and learn about advanced robotics concepts and applications. It will provide a hands-on learning experience about sensor technology, programming skills, and the practical application of robotics in responding to external stimuli. 

In this activity, students will work with motion sensors that will help a robot detect any movement or changes in the surroundings and respond accordingly. The robot can respond in a programmed manner, such as moving, making sounds, or triggering other actions. 

This activity will help students learn how motion sensors work and how a robot can interact with the surroundings. It introduces students to more complex robotics ideas beyond basic movements, such as sensor integration and environmental interaction. 

5. Light-Tracking Bristlebot

Just like the movement, now we’re moving ahead with a robot that can detect light and respond accordingly. This is the little complex version of bristlebot that can use the light sensors to detect the light sources and then move towards the detected light. 

When the sensors detect the light, they trigger the motors to adjust the robot’s direction or speed to move towards the light source. This is what is known as light-based behavior that allows robots to autonomously navigate towards light. 

Through this activity, students will be able to try their hands on the concepts of motor control as well as using light sensors simultaneously. This will further enhance their understanding of robotics principles and applications.

6. Jumping Robot

This is a fun and challenging project for high schoolers. In this project, students will learn about the concepts of mechanisms, motors, and power sources in robotics. 

In this activity, students will try their hands on creating a jumping robot using a spring/elastic band and a motor. When the springs are compressed with the help of a servo-powered mechanism, the robot releases the stored energy to propel itself into the air. This helps the robot to jump while the wheels and motor system allow it to move around and navigate the environment.

This activity introduces students to advanced robotics concepts like integrating the servo and programming the Arduino to control the robot’s movements. It also encourages problem-solving and iterative engineering. 

7. Line Following Robot

This project provides a hands-on introduction to robotics, sensor technology, and basic programming concepts. In this activity, students have to create a robot that follows a line autonomously. The robot will follow a line by detecting the contrast between the surface and the line and it will do so with the help of infrared sensors. 

Infrared sensors consist of two diodes where one sends the infrared light and the other receives it. If the left sensor detects the line, then the robot turns right, and if the right sensor detects the line, it turns left. The robot stops if both sensors detect the line simultaneously. 

With the help of this project, students can learn about the concept of IR sensors and how they work for line detection, programming the Arduino to interpret the sensor data, adjust the sensitivity of the sensors using a potentiometer, and implement the basic control logic to navigate the robot along a predefined path. 

Besides indulging in activities and doing projects, high school students can learn robotics in multiple other ways. Some of the ways include:

  1. Clubs: Joining robotics clubs can provide high schoolers with a supportive environment to learn, experiment, and practice robotic concepts. These clubs provide a platform to collaborate with peers and work on projects. 
  1. Competitions: Participating in robotics competitions encourages high school students to apply their learned knowledge in a competitive setting. They are challenged to design, build, and program robots to do or complete a specific task. It will foster team-building skills, problem-solving skills, and innovation. 
  1. Summer Programs: Summers are the perfect time to explore and follow your passion. Summer programs provide hands-on training, exposure to advanced concepts, and opportunities to work on real-world projects. In addition to this, students will get a chance to network with like-minded individuals which will be helpful in their future. 
  1. YouTube Channels: Knowledge is not limited to classrooms and books. High school students can easily subscribe to some robotics YouTube channels like Rootsaid and the Introduction to Robotics series by Stanford to supplement their formal learning. These channels provide tutorials, demonstrations, and insights into robotics projects. 
  1. Online Learning: Online courses are a great way to learn at one’s own pace and convenience. Many online comprehensive robotics courses offer tutorials, coding exercises, simulations, and interactive learning sessions that enhance the understanding of concepts and applications. 
  1. Camps: Robotics camps are a great way to gain real-world knowledge and get immersive exposure to building, programming, and operating robots. In addition to hands-on learning, students have the opportunity to explore and learn from great industry leaders and experts in a supportive learning environment.

Robotics activities are a great way for high school students to learn and try their hands in this exciting field. By engaging in hands-on projects, students can develop essential skills and gain practical experience. In addition to this, practically doing things will also test and ensure your interest in the field.

Also, the field of robotics is growing rapidly, so there are chances of promising opportunities in robotics engineering, artificial intelligence, and other related fields. So, take your first step and explore the vast world of robotics. Who knows, you might discover something you never imagined for yourself!

Leave a Comment