Learn how to make a simple machine that can animate a scene or objects using basic motions generated using a simple crank.

Activity Resources


Learning Goals

  1. Understand how the crank mechanism works. Correlate it with similar motions that one can see in daily life (eg. manual sugarcane juicer)
  2. Learn how to combine different motions generated by the crank to create animated objects and create stories around them
  3. Understand how rotary motion can be converted to linear motion and the other way round.

Materials Required

  • Cardboard
  • Stiff wire ( e.g., aluminium)
  • Nail or any pointed object for making holes
  • Pliers
  • Glue

Age Groups

This activity is suitable or recommended for ages 10 years & up.

Facilitation Tips

  • Before introducing the activity, ask participants, "What is motion?", "What are the different types of motion you are familiar with?". Show them a picture of objects that exhibit different motion types, such as a clock, bicycle, and ask if they could share similar examples.
  • Introduce the activity using the activity guide in a PDF format, demo video, and voice note.  You could encourage participants to make around a type of motion they shared in response to the question above.
  • Encourage participants to use the builds shown in the video only as a reference and personalize their creations.
  • Ask participants to share in a group a similar machine-like "vichitra yantra" they have seen and imagine how they would use it or build upon further. Then ask, what would you change in the motion so that the machine becomes useful to you?
  • Ask children to personalize this contraption. Can they use it to animate objects that tell a story? Can they connect one yantra to other elements and cause motion in one to be translated to another? Show them demo video 2 for an example of extending the contraption further.
  • Encourage participants to create new forms of motion and combine knowledge of motion they see in daily lives with this yantra.

Browse through the facilitator guide for tips and tricks to engage participants in maker activities in a virtual or physical learning space.

View facilitator guide

Inspiring Artists

Blair Somerville is an artist based out of New Zealand. His life's work has been an art showcase called The Lost Gypsy where he has developed numerous, unique and wonderful handcrafted contraptions using similar crank mechanisms among others. Blair says, his creations are “weird and wonderful wind-up, water-driven gadgets and gizmos made from found objects — shells, toys, coins, wood, watches, wire and more”. You can know more about his work by visiting the gallery here.

Blair Somerville in his The Lost Gypsy Gallery (Source: The Lost Gypsy Gallery)

Inspiring Examples


Mihir Pathak, Learning Facilitator (Unstructured Studio)
Suchakra Sharma, Co-Designer (Unstructured Studio)
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