Many students—and even scientists—would like to succeed in doing a science project, but there are often challenges and obstacles in the way to reaching that goal. Science projects require that you understand scientific methodology. You need to have some ideas of where to start in developing a project. And finally—if entering in a competition—you need the skills to present your project in a way that will improve your chances of winning.

When Julianne Carrales, first grade student at W.J. Clinton Elementary visited the Thinkery Austin Childrens’ Museum in Austin Texas, she knew right away that she wanted for her science project to be out of simple machines. As she continued to go through the exhibits and work in their interactive centers, she finally decided that she wanted to design and create her very own robot.

After researching different robot ideas, Carrales decided that her robot was going to be made primarily of recycled items, so the first thing on her agenda was to begin looking for items that she could use. At home, she found various boxes and old baskets and some leftover dryer ducts. She then visited her grandfather at his awards company where she was able to obtain scrap pieces of metal, old newspaper and other trophy pieces. The brainstorming then began, as she, together with her mother and grandfather, began trying to design the robot. The design was being established to fit over a remote control vehicle that they had previously purchased.

From this point on, it was mostly trial and error. The first problem that arose was that the motor of the remote control car were too small and therefore could not function under the weight of the robot. To correct this, they had to purchase another, larger remote control car. This vehicle was much faster, and was now causing the robot to tip over because the weight was no longer balanced. Carrales, together with her mother, had to go back to the drawing boards and start over, taking into consideration this time the larger, much faster motor.

After several more trials, Robbie the Recycled Robot was created. Carrales wanted her robot to be functional and look real, so she then designed the ‘motherboard’ from pieces of scrap metal, wires, pull tabs, bottle caps and small replicas of some gears. She also used battery-operated lights so it could turn on.

“It was so much fun creating Robbie, there was a lot of learning involved and time, but the end result was a dream come true”, stated Julianne Carrales 1st grade student at W.J. Clinton Elementary.

Carrales admits she was a bit sad when she had to turn him in for the science fair, but was excited to find out she had placed first in her division.

“This was a great learning experience for me, and I am already thinking about what I can do for next year. I am also happy that Robbie Robot is back home with me and my little brother,” added, Carrales.