Micro Automata

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In this activity, learners build small animated toys that move. This engineering activity introduces learners to automata, simple machines, mechanical advantage, rotational motion, and cranks and cams. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 clear plastic cup, large
  • 2 bamboo skewers
  • 1 straw
  • 2-4 circles made from cardboard, foamcore, bottlecaps, etc.
  • cardboard or foam core scraps for handles and stopper pieces
  • decorations for tops
  • screwdriver
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Rotation Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Oakland Discovery Centers


  • All rights reserved, Oakland Discovery Centers, 2012

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