Eli Whitney Museum

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for ages 9-12

Thumbnail of Automaton  project

2023 Summer Program

Please Note: This is a four-day class- Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri.
We are closed, Tues, July 4th.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an Automaton as 1. a mechanism that is relatively self-operating and 2. a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions.

This may bring to mind the concept of a robot with electronics and coding determining its function. But a code doesn’t have to be electronic. Through careful planning and placement, certain mechanics can be used to replicate a motion repeatedly. Indeed, clockwork and mechanical automatons have existed since Ancient Greece. Foreign dignitaries visiting the Byzantine Emperor’s court in the 10th century were greeted by a golden tree of singing birds and two golden lions were flanking the throne with roaring mouths and swishing tails. A series of projects will be explored from the precise and mechanical movements of a spinning shaft to the silly and unconventional like Marvin Minsky’s “useless machine”.

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