• STEAMatWork4Kids

The Buzz around Rob Wood

Updated: Jan 15


Meet Dr. Rob Wood

Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University

This Project:

RoboBees



RoboBee photos are courtesy of Wyss Institute at Harvard University





As a kid, Dr. Rob Wood was always tinkering with things. He was building, taking apart, dreaming of how things could work better. He loved playing with Legos. And he built remote control cars. They mostly crashed. He was always interested in trying to build the things he could imagine. That’s what he does for a living today. Now he uses lasers, microscopes, wind tunnels, flight rooms… lots of fun tools.

“Nothing I’ve ever made worked the first time.”

Rob works on many projects. On this page we will look at “RoboBees.” That’s right. He and his team are trying to build a flying robotic insect, the size of a bee. Why? RoboBees could get into spaces that humans cannot go. Maybe the space is too small for a human to fit. Maybe the space is unsafe. RoboBees could help locate people trapped under fallen buildings after an earthquake. RoboBees could fly over dangerous chemical spills and collect information needed to clean it up. RoboBees could help pollinate plants, just like real bees do. That’s just a few ways they may be useful.


RoboBees are tiny.
It flies! It floats!
They are cut from one piece and folded into shape like origami.

In the process of making RoboBees, Rob and his team are finding answers to bigger questions. These questions are the most fun to answer.

  • How do we make robots that are so small?

  • How do flapping wings control insect flight?

  • How can we mimic that?

  • Insects get their energy from food. How can we get energy to our robots?

  • How can we control these small, very fast robots?

Their answers will help other scientists and engineers too.


It isn’t always easy. Rob says nothing he has built ever worked the first time. And that’s okay. It isn’t a failure. It’s a learning experience. It’s a time to ask questions. Why didn’t it work? What did we forget or overlook? How can we design it better? Engineers realize that failure teaches us how to succeed.

Watch this online video from National Geographic for more info.




Read these books to learn more . . .


Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature, by Jennifer Swanson

Discover how the natural world inspires innovation in science and technology to create the latest and greatest breakthroughs and discoveries in this exciting book.

Discover more than 40 examples of technology influenced by animals, and learn about some of the incredible creatures who have inspired multiple creations

Visit author Jennifer Swanson’s Science Rocks web site or her Amazon author page.


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How Things Work: Discover Secrets and Science Behind Bounce Houses, Hovercraft, Robotics, and Everything in Between (National Geographic Kids) by T.J. Resler


We're dissecting all kinds of things from rubber erasers to tractor beams! Read along as National Geographic Kids unplugs, unravels, and reveals how things do what they do. Complete with "Tales from the Lab," true stories, biographies of real exciting scientists and engineers, diagrams and illustrations . . .

Visit author T.J. Resler’s web site or visit his Amazon author page.




*********************************************

Robots by Melissa Stewart



Discover the coolest robots of today and tomorrow in this colorful, photo-packed book. In this inviting and entertaining format, kids will learn about the science behind these amazing machines. This Level 3 reader is written in an easy-to-grasp style to encourage the scientists of tomorrow!

Visit author Melissa Stewart’s Celebrate Science web site or her Amazon author page.









. . . and visit these websites.



A collection of videos showing biomimicry examples by StemAZing



National Geographic’s How Things Work will show you how things work and mimic nature.



Visit biomimicry.org to learn more about inventions that mimic nature AND check out their “Youth Design Challenge.”


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