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This design challenge is an open-ended exploration of linkages, a group of parts connected by hinges, and the types of motion they can create. Some linkages, like scissors, are simple, while others can be more complex. Learners will create a whimsical creature using cardboard linkages and household items. Activity includes a step-by-step instructions using a design framework, videos with example of homemade linkages creations, and tips with pictures for how to prepare your materials and use paper fasteners. A Spanish version of the activity is also available.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • Structural pieces: cut cardboard strips from mailing boxes and/or cardboard food / drink packaging
  • Fasteners: paper fasteners, twist ties, pipe cleaners (chenille stems), rubber bands, cotton swabs, paper clips
  • Items to add personality: construction paper, yarn, scrap cloth, crafting materials (e.g., googly eyes,
  • pom poms, etc.)
  • Tools: hole puncher, pencil, tape, scissors or utility knife, hot glue (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Arts and Crafts


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , The Tech Interactive, 2020

Funding Source:

  • Stanford Children's Health

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