What can be a better playful way to explore simple machine elements such as cams, levers, cam followers and linkages and the mechanism by creating a mechanical toy using lego bricks. We created a simple automata where a Lego figurine spins around whenever you rotate the crank.
An automata is a good example of integrating science and play into an educational activity. Its a simple mechanism which can bring life to model. In any automata model, a rotary motion is converted into linear motion. There is a cam and a follower. A cam have various shapes eg, round, oval , heart shaped and is fixed to a rotating shaft. A follower is a mechanism which is designed to move up and down as it follows the edge of the cam. The follower tracks the movement of the cam’s shape and generates the same movement for each rotation.
You would need the following bricks
The assembly is pretty simple. First, use a 4 x 12 brick as a base and with the help of Technic pin connector plate attach two Technic 1 x 16 bricks with holes at a little distance apart from each other. Connect the 1 x 16 bricks together at the top using two 1 x 2 Technic brick with hole and a circular disc with hole in it. Using an axle as a shaft, slide the other 1 x 4 circular disc with hole and connectors on both sides into the two vertically parallel 1 x 16 brick to act as a cam making sure it rotates freely. Similarly, slide a smooth circular disc into an axle and through the top circular disc to act as a follower. Move the side handle and make sure as the cam rotates, the follower also rotates. Draw some design on a circular piece of paper and attach it to the vertically upright axle. See your automata model in action.
There are endless models to create using an Automata concept. Try doing a google search on “Automata Model” and you would find amazing creation created by people. Have fun !