Outbreak Lesson 3: Microbots in Medicine

Published by Kevin Lidington on

Microbots in Medicine

Lesson 3

So what is a “MicroBot”?  A microbot is a microscopic robot with sub-millimeter dimensions that is designed to perform a task or tasks with precision. They are designed to either be controlled by teleoperating to propel the robot forward, autonomously where they operate independently with an on-board computer or can be controlled by a swarm of microbots that can include thousands of microbots controlled by a centralized computer.

Combined with Science, Engineering, technology and possibly DNA, microbots are being designed to isolate infected cells from other cells. Researchers have been developing microbots that roam about the bodies in search for cancer cells.  The ultimate goal is to destroy these cancer cells by delivering the necessary drugs with precision. In order to make this happen, these microbots also known as nanobots, have to be extremely small.  To give you an idea, in size these nanobots are a few hundred nanometers across and there is 25 million nanometers in an inch.  Wow – that’s insanely small! What’s even more fascinating is some Nanobots are being made with DNA to hunt down cancer tumors to release the necessary drug. These nanobots are able to distinguish between healthy cells and unhealthy cells to deliver the necessary drugs. People only dreamed about this 10 to 20 years ago and now this is very close to being a reality.  The question is, would you be ok with thousands of nanobots roaming in your body to hunt down cancer cells?



Grab a notebook or your journal and research the following:

 Group – 

There are many types of microbots in the medical field. Some are being used in surgery, some are fighting cancer cells and some are being designed to work in diagnostics. As a group, use your research skills and report to the class about an article on microbots in the medical field. Explain where they are being used or planning to be used, why the microbots are ‘better’ than what was being used to treat the disease/infection and details of how the microbot is designed.

Individual –

In this lesson, check out Disney’s version of a microrobot in, “Microbots Big Hero 6 moment”. What did you think? Is this realistic or possible? Now I want you to view “What is a Microbot?”  Share your reaction in your notebook to the videos.   What do you think is possible with the use of microrobots in the medical field? Would you want thousands of microrobots to enter into your body to destroy cancer? What would you want a microbot to help in the medical world right now? Is there a specific category or disease that you wish a microbot would be able to tackle?  It is kind of eerie to think about thousands to millions of microbots working in a body, but would it be worth it?

Community Connection

Think about your school right now. Where is there an “infection?” We all know there are a lot of places on your campus that are in need of an ‘antibiotic’, they need something to heal a broken system.  Maybe it is a clique, a program, a club, a group of friends, or sports program. When we fall for an assumption, or even spread gossip, then we infect that group and break it down.  When we react to rude people by being rude, we don’t stop the cycle or the infection that has started. Do you want stuff around you to be a success or fail and hurt others? Do what is best for the group, not just yourself. Do what is best for our future. Sometimes we have to be selfless to be a success. You gotta think before you react, respond, text or post. Think.

 Bloom’s Taxonomy: create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review , use, and write

Workforce Skills – list workforce skills related to this lesson

Critical thinking, Collaboration, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing, research



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