My theory-teaching cardboard robot – Part 1

In my quest to try make Computer Applications Technology theory more accessible to my learners, I thought I’d try build a robot. Well, not a real one but a model that I could use to demonstrate the principles of the basic information-processing cycle: input -> processing -> output/storage.

I don’t have any arts or design technology skills but that did not deter me. I started collecting boxes and old computer components that I could find from anywhere. With no real planning (yes, I am so professional) I started gluing boxes together – me and a glue gun are simply a deadly combination!

Prototype 1 : Steve

Phase 1 – The body

First, I glued the boxes together to form a basic shape. I did not really know what shape I wanted. But I guess ‘rectangles’ were going to be the dominant concept.

Phase 2 – Painting

Now it was time to paint! I love painting but I’m no Rembrandt! The painting was easy. I bought a simple paintbrush and 1 litre of acrylic black paint. I don’t even know what acrylic is. But who cares? It felt relaxing and therapeutic!

Phase 3 – The hardware

This was the phase where, well, things just flowed on their own. I had various hardware components that belonged to the information-processing cycle and a rough idea of how I would use them to teach the concepts. I just needed to figure out how I was going to use a ‘robot’ to do it.

I kind of just ran with it and glued stuff wherever…maybe not the best idea. But stick with me here (oh, what a good pun!), it does get better!


I had to figure out a few things like compartments, things that open and close etc. I didn’t have the time or money to make it all professional-looking like a real robot. I was going for a Grade 7 school project quality level or maybe Grade 8…

The next phase, Phase 4 – The completed robot called Steve