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.

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.

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.

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.

Modeling Joints with Robotics

The contraction of flexor and extensor muscles to move a joint is a complex system that can be difficult for students to visualize and understand. Brett Slezak and Amanda Waronsky are using robotics to help their seventh grade students better understand the biomechanics of joint movement. They combine the health and PE classes at Springdale Junior/Senior High School to complete this project with 40 students in roughly eight 45-minute class periods.

Electronic Project Interdisciplinary Creation (EPIC)

EPIC (Electronic Project Interdisciplinary Creation) was developed in the Mt. Lebanon School District (PA) as a collaboration between Cindy Bronen, a middle school science teacher, and Amy Barone, who teaches middle school history. This is as an end-of-year interdisciplinary project in which students learn basic programming skills and demonstrate something they learned in science or history during the year. This is an open-ended project; in the first year, topics ranged from a diorama depicting the Battle of the Alamo to projects depicting Newton's laws of motion.

Chemical Reaction

This project demonstrates how the Hummingbird can be used to create a robotic diorama to illustrate a scientific process, the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to form water. Projects such as this can enable to students to demonstrate their understanding of a science concept while also practicing skills in engineering and computer science.

Measuring Motor Speed

The command to the Hummingbird gear motor sets the speed of the motor using a number from 0 to 100. We developed this project to demonstrate how this number controls the voltage supplied to the motor as well as how the rotations per minute of the motor.