Old School Balancing Robot That'll Teach Your Kids Science

Give your free time creative purpose

This Steampunk inspired robot will teach your kids more than just how to use scissors and glue.

It will teach them about centre of gravity, balance and counterweights… as well as how to make something cool from nothing more than toilet roll tubes! See for yourself…

Steampunk balancing robot made from toilet roll tubes
So, how does it balance?
Steampunk balancing robot made from toilet roll tubes
Ah, a sneaky counterweight!

Special features

It also has some cool features… such as a see-through head, and arms that rotate up and down and move the robot’s steel heart!

How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 1

Step by step guide

Just follow the instructions below, good luck.

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LEARN how to transform the stuff around you into fun and useful things:

Printable artwork

Let’s get stuck in…

Shoulders
How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 2

Take a toilet roll tube (tube A) and use a compass to draw a circle on one side slightly smaller than the diameter of the tube (1). Draw another circle on the opposite side. Now draw a small rectangle between the two circles. Use a craft knife to cut out the circles (2) and rectangle (3).

Take the other tube (tube B) and cut along the length, squeeze it & slide it through the 2 holes in tube A. Mark the overlap with a pencil, and then cut it off - rejoin the tube by glueing a strip of card along the inside of the join (4). Shorten the tube so it protrudes from tube A by 15-20mm (5).

The botttom!
How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 3

Use a hacksaw to cut the top off an empty plastic ‘roll on’ deodorant bottle (6). Spray this, the two tubes (A & B), and an A4 sheet of thick card (210gsm) with metallic silver paint (7).

Arms & heart
How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 4

Draw a ‘heart and pipes’ onto paper and glue it on to the middle of tube B (8). Cut two discs from the silver card & glue them onto each end (9).

Take the silver card and construct the arms following the diagram above and glue them onto the two discs (10).

Brain, jaws & eyes
How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 5

Spray some more card with bronze metallic spray (11). Cut thin strips from the bronze card and glue them around the edges of the ‘shoulders’ (12).

Fashion a jaw and mouth from two more strips of bronze card and glue them onto tube A above the shoulders (13).

Use both silver & bronze card to create the cogs for the ‘brain’ (14) and the eyes (15) - use the diagram above as a guide.

Counterweight
How to make a Steampunk Balancing Robot: illustration 6

Use hot glue to attach a clear plastic lid for the ‘head’, I used the lid from a can of shaving gel (15). Glue the eyes onto the outside of the lid.

Next, make a counterweight from 450mm of stiff wire and an old battery (16). Use hot glue to secure it onto the inside of tube A (17).

Finally, use more hot glue to attach the roller-ball base (18). That’s it!

Materials

  • 2 cardboard toilet roll tubes
  • Cards (210gsm)
  • 1.5mm galvanised wire
  • Old AA battery
  • Craft knife or scalpel and scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Black permanent marker
  • Clear plastic lid (from a can of shaving gel)
  • Empty plastic roll-on deodorant bottle
  • Metallic silver and bronze spray paint
  • Compass, hacksaw, pliers and wire cutters

Give it your own unique twist

You can make a Steampunk robot from almost any material, so don’t feel you have to follow my plans. My only condition is this: try and make things move - like the arms and head, or flaps that reveal the robots inner workings.

I’d love to see how you get on, so why not send me a photo!

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author