Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 | 3 comments

Last week our students began the first of many projects in Makerbots and Mashups, a freshman seminar course at the University of Mary Washington on “making things” using 3D printers, electronics, robotics, and more. We wanted to students to begin the process of exploring how to conceptualize gears and moving parts without worrying about being perfect or using electronics. This project is called Cardboard Automata.

Students, working alone or in small groups, came up with a concept for what they wanted to accomplish. Once they decided on their concept they began cutting and assembling a variety of materials including cardboard, styrofoam, tape, rubber bands, and glue. The resulting machines may seem basic but the cognitive work it takes to conceive how these parts move together is fairly advanced for the first 2 weeks of the course. And what’s great about this project is that as students learn to use more advanced tools like the 3D printers and robotics they can add on to these machines, fine tune, and automate them in ways they couldn’t have dreamed possible!

Here are a few photos of students assembling their projects. Over the next few days we’ll see them blogging about their projects in more detail so keep an eye out for that as well.