Laser Cut Mechanisms

A mechanism enables you to transform the rotation of a motor into another type of motion. In this series of lessons, you will use laser cut parts to explore mechanisms involving cranks, cams, and cables. PDF files are provided for each lesson. You will need to cut these files from cardboard using a laser cutter. The lessons will guide you through assembling these parts to make sturdy, modular mechanisms.


A mechanism enables you to transform the rotation of a motor into another type of motion. In this series of lessons, you will use LEGO® Technic parts to explore mechanisms involving cranks, gears, and cables. Paper templates are provided to guide you in cutting and folding cardboard boxes and accessories to make sturdy, modular mechanisms.

Coriolis Effect

At first, earth science standards may seem far beyond the reach of a robotics activity. However, students can use the Hummingbird to get some hands-on experience with important concepts such as the Coriolis effect, the phenomenon that determines the direction in which a storm rotates. Stephanie Reilly's earth science students at Plum High School used the gear motor to create Hummingbird models of the Coriolis effect and then produced videos to explain what they learned. This project took place in a learning support class over five 42-minute sessions.

Moving Masterpieces

Jayne Sweet of South Allegheny Middle School knows that not all of her students will become artists, but they will all need creativity, the ability to think critically, and problem-solving skills. For this reason, she decided to use robotics to introduce her eighth-grade students to art history. In this nine-week class, students worked in teams of 1-3 to choose a painting and recreate it as a three-dimensional art form. They then incorporated light and movement into the artwork in a way that was congruent with what they inferred about the goals of the artist.

Opera Bots

Opera can seem an inscrutable topic to middle school students. In order to help students better understand and appreciate this art form, music teacher Beth Minda partnered with Gifted Support Coordinator Sue Mellon to devise an interdisciplinary project using the Hummingbird. Eighth grade students from Springdale Junior/Senior High worked in pairs to design and build robotic dioramas for selections from La bohème.

Design Thinking and Robotics

Kim Wilkens and Tom Weis started the school year by challenging their eighth grade science students to create a device for a student with cerebral palsy. During this project at St. Anne's-Belfield School, students learned about the Design Thinking process and researched cerebral palsy. Then they used this process and their research to brainstorm ideas to address the needs of a theoretical student with cerebral palsy. They then chose an idea to prototype using the Hummingbird.

Writing and Robotics

Writing and Robotics is a week-long summer camp at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) run by the SELF Design Studio.  Writing and Robotics is an elective add-on experience for participants of the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp, which is a morning camp that spans a two week period in July.  In Young Writers’ Camp, students write and publish their own fiction or nonfiction work on the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp webpage.

Amusement Park Physics

Informal learning spaces can provide students with in-depth experiences that are difficult to facilitate within the constraints of a traditional classroom. Michael Weidinger, Rebecca Dieffenbach, and Will Bennett facilitate the STEM club at Queens Lake Middle School to enable students to explore robotics via long-term projects. The STEM club meets once a week for one hour during most of the school year.

Interactive Explorers

Students in grade five at Regency Park Elementary School in Plum, Pennsylvania, engaged in their first experience with Hummingbird Robotics kits while learning all about early European explorers in the Americas. Students used engineering, design, and programming to complete this task. Each group of students chose an explorer randomly, researched the explorer for key facts, wrote an autobiographical speech for the explorer to recite, and then created and coded their explorer to give the autobiographical information when an observer got close to it.

Energy Saving Prototypes

Grade 4 students at Saigon South International School learn about engineering, design, and programming within a fully integrated unit that focuses on coding for a purpose, energy, and service-based learning. Students investigate where energy is wasted in their lives and design prototypes to help them reduce energy waste. This project introduces students to the engineering and design cycle in the context of a service-based project.