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Kinetic Art- Standards

Science Content standards:

Describe and explain forces that produce motion in objects.

1 Understand that when a force (e.g., gravity, friction) acts on an object, the object speeds up, slows down, or goes in a different direction.

2. Identify simple machines and describe how they give advantage to users (e.g., levers, pulleys, wheels and axles, inclined planes, screws, wedges).

3 Analyze the separate forces acting on an object at rest or in motion (e.g., gravity, elastic forces, friction), including how multiple forces reinforce or cancel one another to result in a net force that acts on an object.


1. Know that there are fundamental forces in nature (e.g., gravity, electromagnetic forces, nuclear forces).

a. Know that electrical energy is the flow of electrons through electrical conductors that connect sources of electrical energy to points of use, including:
• electrical current paths through parallel and series circuits

• use of electricity by appliances and equipment (e.g., calculators, hair dryers, light bulbs, motors).

2. Know that a force has both magnitude and direction.
3. Analyze the separate forces acting on an object at rest or in motion (e.g., gravity, elastic forces, friction), including how multiple forces reinforce or cancel one another to result in a net force that acts on an object.
4. Know that electric charge produces electrical fields and magnets produce magnetic fields.
5. Know how a moving magnetic field can produce an electric current (generator) and how an electric current can produce a magnetic field (electromagnet).

1. Know that an object’s motion is always described relative to some other object or point (i.e., frame of reference).
2. Understand and apply Newton’s Laws of Motion:
• Objects in motion will continue in motion and objects at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an
unbalanced force (inertia).
• If a greater force is applied to an object a proportionally greater acceleration will occur.
• If an object has more mass the effect of an applied force is proportionally less.

Skills needed: visualization, manual dexterity with tools, estimation of weights and balances, estimation of materials properties, improvisation with materials, fractional relationships

Materials: Tools and supplies: 6 sets of scissors, 6 sets of diagonal cutters, 6 hot glue guns, 40-6 inch hot glue sticks, 8-4 cell AA battery holders, 48 AA batteries, 1 50 ft roll red 22gauge multi-strand hookup wire, 1 50 ft roll black 22 gauge multi-strand hookup wire, 8 miniature single pole, single throw slide switches, 8 6 volt hobby motors, 1 multi meter (supplied by instructor), 4 sets needle nose pliers, 1 roll of string, Provided by instructor: boxes of scrap packaging, electronics, wood, wire, plastics that can be used to create sculptural shapes:.

Facility: a room with numerous 110 VAC outlets, several tables, chairs, chalk board.

Lesson 1. Basics.


Discussion of basics of sculpture and kinetic sculpture: form, shapes, color, space, moment, action (or movement). Basic considerations such as how do you make something stand up by itself. Presentation of Storz’s own work and the work of other sculptors: Nicholas Schoffer, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, Alexander Calder, Christian Ristow (a Taos local who built The Hand of Man), construction of a simple sculpture using scraps and hot glue adhesive.


1. What is a three dimensional artwork?

2. What is meant by the term “moment” as it applies to sculpture? Discussion of examples such as Leaning Tower of Piza,

3. How can one overcome problems of balance? How can counterbalance be used?

Objective: Students will use scrap materials and mechanical fastening techniques: tying wires together, tape, to construct a 3D version of a sculpture they have sketched on a piece of paper.


1. to understand how to transform a mental concept into a physical form

2. to understand how to stabilize and balance an object

Lesson 2. Cantilever.


1. Discuss the concept of “moment” that incorporates the post and beam construction that forms a cantilever.

2. Discuss the importance of a sturdy base in a sculpture.  Using scrap packaging and junk computer parts students each build a simple cantilever that must support the weight of a pair of pliers at the end of the beam and must extend out from the post by at least 6 inches.


1. What makes the feeling of tension in a sculpture that has a cantilevered element?

2. From the completed sculptures-do they have the feeling of “moment”? Can they support the pliers? If not, how can counterweights or triangular supports help? Where do they need to be attached in order to make the sculpture work?

Objective: Students will build a cantilever beam out of scrap materials that will support the weight of a pair of pliers at the end of a 6" beam.

Goal: to understand how to support an object.

Lesson 3. Levers.

Purpose/Rationale: Discussion of various ways to make the fulcrum so the lever will move, such as pins through a post.


1. how much pressure needs to be applied to the short end of the lever to get the over end to move? If one extends the shorter end of the lever can one move a heavier weight?, Why is this?

2. How is a wheel similar to a lever? Is a wheel basically a whole bunch of levers in sequence?

3. What is a fulcrum?

Objective: We will build a simple device from scrap materials that will transmit human power, such as a rotating wheel or a levered weight, to make a small sculpture move. Attention to simple mechanics. Levers. Archimedes: “Give me a place to stand and I will move the world”. Each student builds a simple lever that will be at least 12 inches long and be able to lift a pair of pliers suspended at its end.

Goal: To understand the basic concept of transmission of motion.

Content Standard: 3. Identify forces in nature (e.g., gravity, magnetism, electricity, friction).

Lesson 4: Wheels and belts.

Purpose/Rationale: Demonstration: Diagram of 2 wheels with a belt drive running around both.


1. Why does a bicycle have a chain?

2. Why is one sprocket bigger than the others?

Objective: Make two wheels out of pressboard, one half the diameter of the other, then arrange them on upright forks (similar to bicycle wheels), and with an axel, and close enough together that a large rubber band will go around both. This is to allow the motion of one of the wheels to be transferred to the other wheel. The wheels must be made out of two pieces of pressboard that have outwardly bent edges that form into a groove that will hold a rubber band without it falling off. Like a pulley.

Goal: To understand the transmission of motion from one wheel to another. To understand the relationship of motion between wheels of different diameters.

Materials: Students used: cardboard, toothpicks, hot glue, and packaging scraps to each make a version of the excercise.

At the conclusion:  what do you see when the larger wheel is turned? Why does the smaller wheel turn faster than the larger one? Discovery: the smaller wheel rotates faster/ more often, than the larger. The ratio is discovered. How do you create a different ratio?

Critique: What are the elements of keeping the belt moving smoothly? What is needed to keep the wheels from wobbling and causing the rubber band to fall off? How does one estimate the right  amount of tension for the rubber band by adjusting the distance between the wheels? How can one expand this project to move more wheels and transmit motion to a farther location?

Session 5. Basic electronics.


Purpose/Rationale: Discuss  a circuit. Diagram of a simple electronic circuit, using schematic symbols of a battery, a switch, a motor. Demonstrate o a simple Western Union joint in order to make an electronic circuit.

Demonstration: wiring a circuit with a battery, switch and motor. Each student makes their own circuit of the same elements.


1. Each student assembles a series of Western Union joints, solders them, that complete an electronic circuit.

2. Using these techniques, we will build a simple circuit using batteries, a motor and a small switch to make a motor turn. Attention to safety: “do not become part of the circuit”. Potential for harm is very minimal as standard household batteries will be used. We’ll cover Ohm’s law, voltage, and current.

Questions: What happens when the circuit is completed? How fast is the motor turning? Using the concepts from previous lessons, how can one make the output of the motor go slower?


1. To understand the flow of electrons through an electrical circuit.

2. To understand the transformation of electrical energy into mechanical energy.

3. To understand the effect of wheels, levers and friction on mechanical energy.

Lesson 6. Final project

Objective: Using materials and techniques learned previously ( wheels and belts, levers, cantilevered parts, counterbalanced weights) students build a human powered or battery powered kinetic sculpture of table top size that demonstrates the 5 elements of a sculpture.

1. To create a sculpture that integrated elements from the previous lessons.

2. To understand ways of combining the principles learned in the class.
Session 7.  Final project: Completion

Continue work and finish kinetic sculpture. Final critique. Discuss the elements of form (shapes multiplied together), balance.  Is there a cantilever? What is the Kinetic part of the sculpture? Students will present their works in a school wide presentation and take home their sculptures.


Teacher notes: Several students elected to collaborate on a final project that resulted in a free standing post that stood 15 feet high. It demonstrated balance, techniques of fastening, some diagonal struts were used near the base. The height was then reduced to about 7 feet and a motorized frame was attached to the top of the post that held slings made of string and small seats like a carnival ride. The motor had no gears but ran slowly enough under the load of the slings to rotate at about 10 rpm.

One female student in 4th grade make a sculpture that included a vertical shaft inside another smaller shaft. In order to make the shafts move more smoothly she added pain water to them, in effect making a lubricated bearing (a discovery for her).

Another male student, 4th grade only wanted his motor to activate, when the lever it was mounted at the end of, moved down. He made a crude but effective switch out of scrap wire that accomplished his intent.