Robo Wheel


En EspaƱol
  • 1

    Here's what you need to make your Robo Wheel!

    • 2 paper bowls
    • 2 rubber bands
    • 3 feet of string
    • Pushpin or thumbtack
    • Tape (duct or masking)
    • Sharp pencil
  • 2

    Find the center

    • Nest the bowls together. Wrap a rubber band around the bowls.
    • Slide it right and left until it divides the bottom circle of the bowl into two equal halves.
    • Make an "X" with the other rubber band. The four quarters make four "pizza slices."
    • Move the rubber bands until all four "pizza slices" are of equal size.
    • The center of the circle is where the rubber bands cross.
  • 3

    Mark the spot

    Mark two dots on each side of the center. Make them equal distance from the center and about a half inch apart. (About the width of your index finger)

  • 4

    Make the holes 

    With your dots as a guide, use the pushpin to poke holes in the bowls.

  • 5

    Widen the holes

    • Remove the rubber bands and separate the bowls. 
    • Poke a sharp pencil into a pushpin hole. Twist it and push gently. Stop when the hole is just a bit bigger than the string. That's usually around where the wood part of the pencil starts, just after the black lead.
    • TIP: If your two holes get larger and become one big hole… Make two new holes in the two other “pizza slices” near the center. Keep them small. Set them a finger’s width apart.


  • 6

    Thread the string

    • Begin by threading the string through the bottom of Bowl 1, starting from the outside.
    • Next, thread the string through one of Bowl 2's holes, coming from the inside.
    • TIP: If threading the string through the holes is hard to do… Try doing one of these:
      a) Wet the end of the string.
      b) Wrap the tip in clear tape to stiffen it (like the hard tip of a shoelace).
      c) Push the string through the hole with the pencil.
      d) Re-poke a hole so its little paper rim is bent in the direction the string is going.
      e) Make the hole a little bigger.
  • 7

    Thread the string (cont'd )

    • Then thread the string through the bottom of Bowl 2, coming from the outside.
    • Finally, thread the string through the open hole in Bowl 1, coming from the inside.
    • Tie the ends of the string together with a knot.


  • 8

    Thread the string (cont'd )

    The two bowls should face each other, with the string looping through them.

  • 9

    Tape the bowls

    • Tear off four 2-inch squares of tape. For now, stick them where they will be easy to grab.
    • Line up the bowls so the holes are even with each other. 
  • 10

    Tape the bowls (cont'd )

    Stick the tape so the pieces are across from each other.

  • 11

    Wind up the string 

    • Slide your wheel to the middle of the string loop and hold both ends.
    • To twist the string, push the wheel across the table or floor or ask a friend to help you spin the wheel to wind up the string.
  • 12

    Spin the wheel

    • Pull outward on the string. The wheel will spin as the string untwists. Pull hard.
    • Stop pulling just before all the twists unwind. 
  • 13

    Spin the wheel (cont'd)

    • Bring your hands together so the string is loose and the wheel sags down a bit. The Robo Wheel will keep spinning and will twist the string in the other direction. 
    • When the wheel stops spinning, pull out again, hard.
    • TIP: If you’re having trouble revving up the wheel…The Pull-Relax technique takes a moment to master. Just like a yo-yo or pumping on a swing, it’s about getting the timing right. Soon you’ll have the wheel spinning quickly.
  • 14

    Practice revving up

    • Now that you've practiced spinning the wheel, try releasing it. 
    • Hold the string with your thumbs in the loop. Hold the wheel just above where you want to launch it. 
    • Spin the wheel forwards and backwards a few times to get it revved up.
  • 15

    Release the wheel

    • Wait until the wheel is spinning away from you to begin your release. 
    • Let the string unwind until it is almost completely untwisted. (At this point, there will be lots of room for your thumbs to release the string.)
    • Drop the string, and watch your wheel go!
  • 16

    Did you know?

    Ever spin a top? A top is a flywheel, a spinning disc that stores energy. Once a flywheel gets going, the stored energy keeps the spin going for a long time. The Robo Wheel is a flywheel.  Like a top or a tire rolling down a hill, once it gets rolling, it keeps going until a force interferes with its spin.

  • 17

    Try this next!

    • Mini golf. Make up stations, like side-by-side racer, knocking over dominoes, leaping a big gap, jumping off a ramp, and hitting a target.
    • Massager. Add yarn along the edge. It will fling out. Massage your face. Or swat mosquitoes.
    • Color wheel. Add color with markers. Watch the colors merge when the Robo Wheel spins.
    • Rain stick. Put dried peas or a bell inside to clatter about as the Robo Wheel slows down.
    • Disco ball. Add shiny stickers or rhinestones. Shine a focused beam of light from a flashlight and make disco-ball patterns on the wall.