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Course Instructor

Instructor Bio

Automatons and Mathematical Toys

Making is a way of bringing engineering to young learners. Such concrete experiences provide a meaningful context for understanding abstract science and math concepts. For older students, making combines disciplines in ways that enhance the learning process for diverse student populations and opens the doors to unforeseen career paths.

Sylvia Libow Martinez


Jun - Jul 2019


In this course, students will build toys and automatons (moving mechanical devices imitating human beings). In this process, they will learn to apply various mathematical concepts like algebra, trigonometry and geometry, and learn design principles and 3D CAD software. They will also learn the scientific principles behind new and upcoming technologies without going into the theoretical complexities, develop hands-on skills and learn methods of problem-solving.


For example, students will investigate the working of a cart that draws a sine wave on the ground, and explore alterations to draw different wave shapes. They may make an automaton that mimics the action of another human or mechanism e.g. somebody pushing a wall. They will also design and make geodesic domes, which will help them to develop an intuition about 3D shapes and space, how architects use tessellation, rigidity and structures etc. In short, through this course, students will develop the confidence to work with their hands and minds and begin their journeys towards becoming designers and makers.