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Bank a recycled robot

Decide what makes the best robot, then work together to save tokens and turn your vision into reality.

You will need

  • Clean items of recycling
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Glue sticks
  • Sticky tape
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Big pieces of card
  • Something to use as tokens

Activity summary

This activity gets young people saving up recycled items to build a robot together. They earn tokens by playing games and then exchange those tokens for materials to build their robot - they will have to decide what to spend their tokens on - and then vote for the best robot! This could run over a couple of sessions, or a number of weeks (depending how long you want to collect recycled items for), so check out the Before you begin section to see how you could run it.

Before you begin

  • You might want to run the Pack your Bags activity with your group first to get a taste of budgeting and identifying needs and wants. 
  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here
  • Ask everyone to bring in some clean items of recycling. Things like milk bottles, tin foil, toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes all work really well. If you’ve got space, you could build a collection over a few weeks.
  • Assign token values to different materials and put them somewhere everyone can see them. Materials you’ve got plenty of should be worth fewer tokens; if you only have a small amount of a material, make it worth more tokens. It’s up to you how you display the values – you could make little signs or write on the materials.
  • Feel free to split this activity across multiple sessions if it works better for you.
  • There are some great games to to with budgeting and saving on the Scout Store: look for Money Bags, Buy It Right Shopping Game and Money Box Tree!

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Make sure that everyone knows the plan for dropping young people off (and picking them up again).
  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session. Ask everyone to wash their hands before and after helping to build their robot.
  • Stay socially distanced when moving around the space.
  • Make sure equipment is cleaned before use. Think about how you’ll clean items that people bring from home.
  • Think about how you’ll hand the materials out once people have exchanged their tokens.

Step 1: What makes the best robot?

  1. The person leading the activity should put all of the materials on display and tell everyone that no one ‘owns’ these items, even if they brought them in. They should explain that each item is worth a certain number of tokens and that all of the items are up for grabs.
  2. Everyone should work together to decide what makes the best robot. Maybe it’s the tallest, the shiniest, or the one with the most functions? Everyone should choose something achievable that they could try to make with the materials available.
  1. Everyone should split into small teams. Each team should move into a socially distanced space.

Step 2: Points make parts

  1. Everyone should play a quick game.
  1. The person leading the activity should give everyone one token for taking part. They should give the winning team three extra tokens, the team that came second two extra tokens, and the team that came third one extra token.
  1. Each group should decide whether they want to spend any of their tokens. The person leading the activity should explain that it’s up to them: if they wait too long then the cheaper materials may disappear, but if they don’t save up then they may never be able to afford the more expensive materials.
  1. Everyone should play another quick game and the person leading the activity should award tokens, remind people how many tokens they have, and give people the chance to spend them.

  2. Everyone should repeat step four until they’ve played enough games. After the final game, everyone should spend the rest of their tokens.

Step 3: Construct your robot

  1. Each team should sit (socially distanced) around their piece of card. The person leading the activity should lay their materials out a safe distance away.

  2. Each team should work together to build their robot by sticking their materials to the piece of card. They should remember the group’s decision about what makes the best robot as they build.
  1. Once everyone’s finished, they should take it in turns to show off their robot to the rest of the group. Does a robot stand out as the best?

  2. The person leading the activity should decide whether there’ll be a winner. People could vote on their favourite or, if it’s too close to call, the person leading the activity could declare them all brilliant inventions.


The person leading the activity should congratulate everyone on working together to decide when to save and when to spend their tokens. Did anyone want to spend all of the tokens as soon as they had them? How did it feel to wait and save tokens for better materials? How did it feel when people spent tokens that they’d been carefully saving?

The person leading the activity should explain that people do the same with real money. When people keep their money safe, it collects over time so people can put it towards something that’s more expensive – just like the tokens and the materials. Did anyone find a really good approach to saving their tokens? Maybe some people found a balance where they used some tokens as soon as they got them and saved some towards some of the more exciting materials. Did anyone have a good technique for making decisions? Maybe people kept a list of the tokens they had or asked an adult to separate them into different piles. 


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Glue and solvents

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions which could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.