Junk Drawer Robotics

two 4H members working on building a robot using assorted piecesThe Junk Drawer Robotics toolkit is based on the National 4-H Curriculum, “Junk Drawer Robotics.”  It is geared towards middle school students, but engineering and science activities can be adapted to be appropriate for high school or, with assistance, elementary students. Materials in the kit center around the idea of robotics design.  There are three levels with the curriculum, focusing on:

Level 1: robotic arms, hands, and grippers

Level 2: moving, power transfer and locomotion

Level 3: connections between mechanical and electronic elements.



If you liked the Junk Drawer Robotics experience, come and visit the University of Maine!

The UMaine College of Engineering has year-round tours and hands-on activities on campus for all age students. UMaine College of Engineering is very committed to encouraging our youth, especially girls to explore engineering careers through the Girls Engineer Maine (GEM) program. To schedule a visit for your group, contact your UMaine Extension County Office, and they will work to arrange a convenient time. Boys are welcome too!

Did you know you can minor in Robotics at UMaine (archived catalog)?  The robotics minor at UMaine is designed to provide a fundamental understanding of the robotic operation and preliminary training in the design and use of robots. This minor is intended to equip students with some fundamental knowledge and information on robotic manipulators, structures, systems, and related applications. In particular, statics, kinematics, dynamics, and control of robots will be covered in this minor. Robotic systems have wide application in modern technology and manufacturing. The students choosing this minor can also specialize, by completing special projects within the various courses, in certain aspects of intelligent robotics such as mobile walking robots, robotic vision, robotic surgery, and surgical microrobots as well as the design and applications of robots for hazardous tasks and environments.


Junk Drawer Robotics Project Kit Supply List

  • toolbox
  • hacksaw
  • pliers
  • screwdrivers
  • dual temp glue gun
  • heavy duty punches
  • small vice and clamps
  • sandpapers
  • 6” wood rasp or file
  • needle nose pliers
  • lineman pliers
  • slip joint pliers
  • screws
  • small hammer
  • nails
  • wire cutters
  • wire stripper
  • electrical tape
  • soldering iron
  • continuity tester/VOM tester
  • masking tape
  • goggles

Activity Supplies

  • aluminum foil
  • batteries (AA)
  • batteries (C or D)
  • batteries (four pack or 6-volt lantern)
  • binder clips (could be clothespins or other clips)
  • cardboard (12” x 36”)
  • coffee stirrers
  • container (shallow and wide pan type)
  • craft sticks
  • cups (8 to 16 oz.)
  • erasers (pencil top size)
  • felt pens
  • Junior Engineer Gears set
  • magnet
  • motor, small toy (1.5 to 6 volts)
  • steel nail (12 to 16p)
  • paper clips
  • paper brads, brass (1” to 1 ½”)
  • ping pong balls
  • protractor
  • rubber bands
  • duct tape
  • straws, drinking (various sizes, flexes)
  • electrical tape
  • masking tape
  • wire, 18-22 gauge (in short pieces)
  • wood skewers
  • sandpaper, various grits
  • graph paper
  • light bulbs (holiday mini lights)
  • light bulbs (LEDs or mini LEDs)
  • blindfolds
  • chalk
  • peg board
  • blue painter’s tape

Not provided as part of the kit, but will need for some activities (but not all):

  • water dive tank (pool, tub, etc)
  • multi-speed bicycle
  • musical playing device (like musical chairs)
  • poster paper
  • items for the Component game
  • pennies
  • trunk of junk
  • soda Bottle, two-liter
  • toy propeller (for the underwater motor shaft)
  • electronics experiment kit
  • Don’t Buzz Me game
  • flashlight bulbs (1.5 to 6 volt)
  • compass (magnetic needle)
  • wire coat hangers