Solar Bristlebots

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Yesterday I met with Rachel’s 1st grade class for the first time. In the past, we have done either bristlebots or solar cockroaches. This year, I combined them and it was the best EVER.


Let’s start with the results, then I’ll get into the super easy making process.

One child created something wonderful and totally unexpected. He added what looked like a basketball rim made with a pipecleaner. Then he put a styrofoam ball in it and it SPUN when the bot was in motion!


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So this is how the Solar Bristlebots are made. The parts list is at the bottom.

  1. Stick the motor to the back of the solar panel. Orientate the motor so the red wire is 20170930_125628.jpgon the + side and the blue wire on the “-” side. I was working with 1st graders, so I soldered the motors on beforehand. After you solder the motor, put it under a strong light or take it outside to make sure it works. The solar panel might have a protective plastic cover that should be peeled off before you test.



20170930_1257442. Cut a piece of the double stick foam tape the length of the solar panel. Place it on the back of the solar panel (over the motor) and press down for a strong bond. Peel of the protective paper.


20170930_1302133. Cut off the handle of the toothbrush. Again, since I was working with 1st graders, I did this beforehand.



20170930_1303164. Put the toothbrush heads on the sticky foam tape. In this example, I switched the orientation. But the brushes on so the bristlebot has stability.


That’s it! Now the students should decorate the bristlebots, with tails and antenna etc. Rachel and I also them with with the hot gluing.



Solar Cell Solar Panel 30*60mm 2V 50mA 0.1W

12mm disc vibration motor 

double sided foam tape

toothbrushes – I usually get packs of toothbrush at a dollar store. The flatter and wider the better.

misc. decoration materials (feathers, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, etc.)



soldering iron / solder

large snips

hot glue gun / glue sticks

safety glasses

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