April 27, 2007

Speedmonster, the toy that sparks creativity

Technology and design is a new topic in the school curriculum here in Norway. At the Science Center we have a toy construction activity for the mid-level classes called Speedmonster. The activity is designed by Elisabeth Kanebog and Marte Karidatter Skadsem, as a collaboration between "Den kulturelle skolesekken" and the Science Center. Elisabeth is an art teacher excelling in design and the design process and Marte is our tech expert in the house. Speedmonster is partially based upon old mechanical toys and the activity is divided in three parts;
  • learning the history and technology of toys
  • learning and doing the design process
  • making, testing and improving the toys
The Speedmonster is a half sphere made from Cernit clay (or similar), with a hole either at the front, the top or the back. Use a small bowl (8-10 cm across) underneath to get the shape right. Cut away excess clay and make sure you have a thicker layer of clay on the sides, to fit the two screws placed on each side underneath the shell, before the shell is baked in an oven. The shell will crack if you try to screw the screws into the clay after it has hardened in the oven.

As you can see on the photo to the right, the mechanichs is a set of wheels with a small piece of wood glued between them. The wheels are attached to the monstershell via rubberbands, glued to the wheels as well. To make sure the rubberbands are firmly attached to the wheels, put a matchstick with glue on in between the two rubber ends. After the glue has dried and hardened, cut off the part of the matchstick sticking out of the wheel hole.
Tie a piece of thread onto the wheels and push the end out of the hole you've drilled in the shell. Attach a small object to the end of the thread, preferably something you've made of the clay, fitting your Speedmonster design.
If you have problems making the Speedmonster walk properly, cut small bands out of a balloon and make rubber tires on the wheels. And if you still can't make it walk, improve your design and make another one! Be creative!
The activity has been a huge success for us, and all the kids have loved it, even if some of them left us with a broken, non-working toy. Their designs have been very creative, it is amazing what they produce. We will continue having the Speedmonster on our activity program, and will offer this to the local schools next spring. If you are interested in more information about the Speedmonster, and live outside Tromsø, I'd be happy to let you in on our tips and tricks, as well as the design protocol.


Anonymous said...

ha ha so cool i wanna eat chiken

Anonymous said...


ssswin88 said...

Thank you for sharing, Very good.