Introduction to Mechanical Automata: Presentation Only or Hands-on Workshop

by  Playful Engineers

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A mechanical automaton is an automated puppet or scene made to resemble humans, animals, or other objects in motion. We'll learn about gears, cranks, and cams, and how rotary motion can be transformed to reciprocating and oscillating motion. We'll look at some historical, and some present day marvels. This presentation makes a great introduction to Jay's hands-on 'Maker Space Build-Along: Automata!' workshops.

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About This Program


Multipoint: $200.00
Multipoint Premium: $150.00
View Only: 200.00
View Only Premium: $150.00
Point to Point: $200.00
Point to Point Premium: $150.00
By Request: $200.00
By Request Premium: $150.00


45-55 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Teacher(s)/Educator(s), Parent, Adult Learners, Homeschool/Family , Learning PodPublic Library: Library Patrons, Library Staff

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Gifted & Talented, Problem Solving, STEM

Program Delivery Mode

Google Hang Out

Booking Information


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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

24 hours prior for cancellation

About This Provider

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Playful Engineers

Amherst, MA
United States

As a teaching artist/engineer, maker/tinkerer, musician, recording artist, and educator, Jay Mankita has worked with kids and families for over 30 years. His workshops and presentations are experiential and inspiring. Jay is a life-long learner, with a passion for engineering, especially using repurposed toys and household objects. 

Jay has presented thousands of STEM related, hands-on programs since 2015. Jay is also a touring musician, a Parents' Choice Award winning recording artist, and a songwriter with songs that have traveled the world.

Jay Mankita

Program Details


1. The program begins with a short introduction to mechanical automata, with historical examples, and modern relevancy.
2. We shares examples of some of Jay's simple automata, while more complex ones are shown through short videos.
3. We break down an automaton into its component parts, and discuss energy transfers and motion transforms.
4. Jay demonstrates how he works with ordinary materials to make several different parts.
5. We see how the same principles can be expressed through different types of materials, including typical household objects, and common tools and toys.
6. The values of trial and error, growth mindset, and learning from failure, as well as success are emphasized throughout.
7. During the class, the teacher/co-host is encouraged to pop-in with relevant comments and questions from the students. With a small enough class, students may do this themselves.


The participants will:
1) develop an awareness of and appreciation for kinetic art
2) explore principles of force and motion as expressed through mechanical objects
3) identify entry points for their own hands-on exploration of movements and materials.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions 3-5
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions 6-8
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions 9-12
ETS1A 3-5 -- Defining and Delimiting and Engineering Problem
ETS1A 6-8 -- Defining and Delimiting and Engineering Problem
ETS1A 9-12 -- Defining and Delimiting and Engineering Problem
ETS1B 3-5 -- Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1B 6-8 -- Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1B 9-12 -- Developing Possible Solutions
PS2A 3-5 -- Forces and motion
PS2A 6-8 -- Forces and motion
PS2A 9-12 -- Forces and motion