MechAnimations 1


In Lesson 4, students made pegboard mechanisms with multiple outputs. Such a  mechanism is the basis for a MechAnimation, a cardboard construction that uses a mechanism to tell a story. In Lesson 5 students devise stories that can be told through a MechAnimation, and they redesign mechanisms to go with the stories. This is the first of three lessons in which students create MechAnimations. It is continued in Lessons 10 and 11.  In between are lessons through which students learn how to make mechanisms move the way they want them to.


  • Pegboard mechanisms made by students in Lesson 4
  • Pegboard bases, links and pivots as in Lesson 4
  • Post-its ™ for demonstration
  • MechAnimation of boat and whale.


1. Class Discussion of MechAnimations

Introduce the Boat and Whale MechAnimation.  What story does this MechAnimation tell? Now demonstrate a pegboard mechanism from Lesson 4. Attach a blank Post-it ™ to each output:

  • What story could a MechAnimation tell, if it was based on this pegboard mechanism?
  • What could be drawn on each Post-It™ to illustrate the story?

For links to Mechanimations, click here.

2. Design Challenge: Make a MechAnimation and a story it can tell.

Students begin their designs of mechanisms and stories.  They are not expected to finish these this period. Emphasize that these are initial ideas, like first drafts. After this lesson they will learn how to make mechanisms move the way they want them to move. Then they will make more MechAnimations in Lessons 10 and 11.   Provide these directions:

Make an initial pegboard mechanism as a possible model for a MechAnimation.ï?£ Draw the mechanism. Use arrows to show how it moves.

  • Make changes in the  pegboard mechanism. Change a pivot location or add an output. Draw the new mechanism.
  • Write any ideas for a story you want to tell.

Encourage students to continue designing and redesigning both their MechAnimations and their stories, until they come with something they like

Science Notebook

  • Draw at least two pegboard designs you tried.  Explain what you like or don’t like about each one.
  • In words and pictures, describe the story your MechAnimation will tell.


Students have learned to

  • create diagrams of alternative pegboard mechanisms,
  • comment on their strengths and weaknesses, and
  • invent stories that can be illustrated by the MechAnimation.



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