Back in the fall, I attended the GAEA conference where I went to a session about kinetic art. The presenter showed us how to make an awesome kinetic sculpture using a simple machine and basic materials. I thought this would be a fabulous and fun connection for 4th graders who student kinetic energy and simple machines.
We began by looking at the artwork of Theo Jansen who is one of my favorite artists. I first discovered his work through a Ted Talk several years ago and it resonates with me for a number of reasons, mainly that the work is a flawless symbiosis of art and science (yay!) The kids were really impressed by Jansen’s Strandbeests and enjoyed comparing his work to other kinetic sculptures. Check out the You Tube user “Perpetual Useless” for more awesome kinetic art.
We talked a little about radial balance and students created designs on recycled CDs with sharpies.
The next week, students used tempera paint to decorate recycled tubes.
Then it was time to put the machines together. We talked about a wheel and axle and how the machine would work. With a lot of peer support and teamwork, students were able to construct their machine using a rubber band, popsicle sticks, and a lifesaver mint.
We went in the hallway and outside to race them and it was a blast!