New automata activity development: Cranky Contraptions

We have been prototyping a new automata activity called “Cranky Contraptions” using simple materials such as wooden blocks, wire, and foamies. Now that it’s been about a month that we have been testing the activity with the visitors, I wanted to take a moment to share about this new activity, how it all started, and what people have been making.


Automata & Reconsidering Materials

The wonderful world of automata is filled with humor and whimsy, but when it comes to making one yourself for the first time it can seem a little scary. Our advice is to 'go for it' ~ don't fret too much, take the leap and just try making one. You'll be able to really start tinkering once you get that first one out of the way.


After School Tinkering: Wood Automata

During the fall session at Lighthouse Community Charter School, the Tinkering Studio developed and delivered after school tinkering curriculum focusing on projects that used mechanisms and motions. One of the projects in the series was wood automata, where students used what they had learned previously in Tinkering Club to build automata entirely from wood.


LEGO Tinkering Pegboard Instructable

As we experiment with LEGO parts to explore with motions, mechanisms and linkages, we've also been working on custom elements to help us and visitors with the process of tinkering with these materials.



Parts, Purposes, and Complexities with Explainers

Over the past year or so, we have been experimenting with visible thinking routines developed by the Agency by Design group which is an initiative in the larger Project Zero project.


Automata (and then some...)

You may have noticed the radio silence on our end, as witnessed by a serious lack of blog posts. This was because our website was hacked, not that we didn't have lots of things to share with you.  We're happy to be back in business now and I'll kick things off with what should end up being a barrage of blog posts from the team, showing you what we’ve been up to for the last month or so.


Moving Toy Inspired Clothespin Automata

Over the past few months we've been working out the kinks of our cardboard automata workshop in the Tinkering Studio. But before we transition to our next activity, there are a few more explorations of motions and mechanisms that we are interested in prototyping.


Linkages - endless tinkering possibilities related to mechanical motion

Here's a little inspiration in the form of linkages -- from our friends, Gautham and Vanya, at the Shristi School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. When they were in residence with us earlier this year, we started talking about exploring linkages as part of our mechanical motion and automata work. They shared these beautiful videos of work they've done with kids in Bangalore. Their creations are so beautiful and expressive, and made with such simple materials.


Making an Automata Workbench Pt. 2

A few weeks ago we took the idea of a wooden automata kit from the cabaret mechanical theater and made a few rough prototypes to allow visitors to experiment with some of the elements of automata without having to commit to an extended workshop. We tested the setup a few times on the floor and found that the idea seemed interesting enough to continue pursuing the idea of turning the experiments into an more robust exhibit.


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