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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D&T
  • Engineering

3D modelling

Designing and modelling a 3D robot arm

In this design activity, students will produce a 3D model of a robot arm.

It’s part of a series of activities that sees students designing and modelling the physical elements of a robot arm. This 3D modelling activity assumes that students have previously made a 2D model of a robot arm in the Build a robot arm activity (if they haven’t, they may benefit from trying the 2D modelling activity first!).

This is one of a set of resources developed to aid the teaching of the secondary national curriculum, particularly KS3. It has been designed to support the delivery of key topics within design and technology (DT) and science.

Activity: Designing and modelling a 3D robot arm

In this hands-on activity, students will be divided into small teams and tasked with taking inspiration from their previously completed 2D models of a robot arm to construct a 3D model. This arm will then have to lift three identical objects between a “start” and “end” location.

The arms will be judged on how accurately the items are transferred, the lack of damage to the items being moved, and the time needed to complete the moves. Students will need consider factors such as grip, hand operation, item protection, and structural rigidity (i.e., how do they stop the arm from bending?).

Teams will have the opportunity to test, improve, and refine their designs based on constructive feedback provided by the class.

Download our activity overview for a detailed lesson plan for teaching students about designing and modelling a 3D robot arm.

The engineering context

Understanding how to design and build a robotic arm will introduce your students to key concepts in mechanical engineering and automation technology. Robot arms are used in a wide variety of industrial applications, ranging from loading machines to assembling cars, welding parts together and spray-painting products. They are also used in delicate applications such as bomb disposal and repairing space craft while in orbit.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of the lesson students will be able to design and build a 3D model. They will also have developed their creative and problem-solving skills, teamwork abilities and a practical understanding of the workings of robot arms.

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

Download our classroom lesson plan and presentation below.

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