Scribble Bots

GRADES 5 and up

Workshop Overview

In the galleries, students consider connections between science, technology and artmaking while discussing works of art in the collection. In the studio classroom, students experiment and problem solve to create a simple mark-making machine of their own. All supplies will be provided.  


  • Create a circuit using the provided kit 
  • Use creative problem-solving skills 
  • Create a mark-making machine that incorporates the use of circuitry 
  • Discover connections between art and science 


  • Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design  
  • Compare and contrast how technologies have changed the way artwork is preserved, presented, or experienced.  
  • Investigate the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.  


  • Circuit In electronics, a circuit is a path between two or more points along which an electrical current can be carried
  • MotorA machine powered by electricity 
  • Alligator clip test leads A spring loaded clip with serrated jaws used to make temporary electrical connections. 
  • Jitter Bot A motorized contraption that jitters or vibrates. 
  • Scribble Bot A motorized contraption that moves in an unusual way and leaves marks that trace its path. 
  • Mark-Making A term used to describe the different lines, patterns and textures that are created in artwork using a variety of materials. 
  • Balance An even distribution of weight enabling something to remain upright and steady.

Pre-Workshop Activities

  • Did you know that putting paint in a tube could have such a huge impact on artmaking? Learn more in this short video from Articulate with Jim Cotter – The History of Paint Tubes What other scientific advancements or discoveries can you find that have changed the course of art throughout history?  
  • Look at a work in the Nelson-Atkins collection by contemporary artist, Joris Laarman. Discuss how he is using advances in modern technology in his piece – Makerchair Jigsaw (Prototype) 
  • Here is a link to the artist’s website where you can read and see more about his ideas, processes and his art –
  • Experiment with mark-making using a variety of art tools: markers, pastels, different sizes of paintbrushes, etc. Explore different ways of handling the tools and materials: with your non-dominant hand or your toes, attached to a long stick or a small toy car with wheels. 

Post-Workshop Activities

  • Continue experimenting with the scribble bots. Encourage students to collaborate and resolve student generated questions. Some examples include: 
    • How many students’ bots moved in circles? How many in straight lines? Do they have common characteristics? 
    • How can changes be made to make the scribble bot move faster/slower or in an unrecognizable pattern?  
    • Which bots make dotted lines? Which bots make solid lines? Why? 
  • Extend the artmaking process by creating collage art utilizing the scribble bot mark-making patterns on paper or add to the lines and marks using markers, oil pastels and pencils. 
  • Ask students to write about their bots and brainstorm various ways the bot could be used to solve a problem or accomplish a task. 
  • Research ways in which contemporary artists are using science, technology and engineering in their work today. Use the links below to start your search!