Chatham Rabbit Hole Logo


Bristle Bots

These are small ‘robots’ that are made of the head of a toothbrush,
a buzzer from a pager (really a motor with an off-center shaft weight),
and a button battery.  The motor causes vibrations in the brush bristles
which cause the robot to move around.  Adding pipe cleaners
stabilizes the top-heavy assembly.  Adding googly-eyes is just fun.


Design a bristle bot that moves according to your preferences.  Can you get it to move straight? In a circle?  Fast?  Build two of them and have them dance with each other.


You can find the materials yourself, but the easiest method is to buy a kit.  Each bot is about $6.

From Amazon: Brown-Dog-Gadgets-BRISTLEBOT-Educational-Kit

Bristlebot Kits – Brown Dog Gadgets

Play Video

Design Constraints 

Build a bristle bot.  Define how you want it to move.  ‘Train’ it to move that way by adding pipe cleaners.  


The kit comes with directions, but here are the steps with some tips:

  • Stick the double-sided tape onto the flat plastic top of the bristle brush.
  • Stick the motor to the double-sided tape with the rotating off-center weight hanging over the side. The weight needs to be able to rotate freely.  And, one of the wires needs to be on the bottom so that it will be able to run underneath the battery.
  • Stick one wire onto the tape (does not matter which one).
  • Stick the battery onto the top of the wire with the
    negative (-) side down onto the wire.
  • Touch the other wire to the positive (+) side of the battery.
  • The motor should turn and vibrate.
  • Add your pipecleaners and googly eyes.
  • Use a bit of masking tape to temporarily hold the wire to the  + side of the battery and set the bristle-bot down.
  • Adjust the pipe cleaners until the bot moves as you intended.


  • What makes it move?
  • What do the pipe cleaners do?
  • What can you do to make it move faster?
  • Project Design and Description: Erin Denniston, M. Ed
  • Video: Donald Kallgren