This fall, we started our Inventors Workshop by getting things moving. Animatronics refers to lifelike robots. You would often see animatronics in movies or a theme park. Some of my favorite animatronic activities are the simplest. I love this wagging tail from Arvind Gupta. They are easy to make and I find the movement fascinating. A straight up and down tug makes great sweeping movements. We've made lots of wagging tails that have turned into various animals.
We've even turned them into moving pictures.
I've discovered a couple of tricks to help make this activity successful:
We stopped with this project for the 6-8 yr olds. With the 9-12 yr olds, we kept going over the next couple of weeks building automata.
Automata are toys that move using mechanical energy. Cranks, gears, springs, pulleys. A really simple automata, like this project from the NY Hall of Science, uses smooth gears friction to spin an object around.
We had a great time with this activity. I also brought the 3Doodler and the kids had a good time incorporating plastic doodles into their creations.
What I've learned from our automata project: