Name of Activity Spin Art
Author Kara Miranda
Keywords open-ended, design, challenge, design, build, spin, create, art, markers, crayons, paint, art supplies, not classroom tested, NXT, toys, prototype, Engineering Design Process, Gears, gear ratios, 4-6, 7-9, 2 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description An open-ended design challenge in which students will design and build an object that will spin in some manner to create art with markers, crayons, paint, or other art supplies. *This activity is not classroom tested.*
Lesson Objectives: To apply building techniques and knowledge about gears to an activity challenge.
Materials Needed: RCX or NXT LEGO kits
Example photos of toys that create spin art
Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially gears and beams
Engineer’s Planning Sheet
Markers, crayons, paint, or other art supplies
Tape (to tape markers, crayons etc. to LEGO pieces)
Large sheets of paper to draw on
Preparation and Set Up: Collect necessary materials
Tape down large sheets of paper to floor if necessary
Photocopy worksheets
Arrange students into groups of 3
Decide how you will distribute extra pieces and drawing utensils
Write design requirements on the board
Necessary Background Review gears and gear ratios

Engineering Design Process
Gear ratio

  • Tell students that in this challenge they will be making spin art. Explain to them what spin art is and the different ways they can go about making it. Spin art is created by any medium spinning in some manner, whether it is the marker drawing in circles, paint being spun, or paper being rotated, etc. Students may attach these things to a car that they program, or a stationary object, or whatever they choose; this activity is very open ended for students design-wise.
  • Show students different pictures and/or videos of spin art toys, explaining what they do and how they work. Also, it may be a good idea to review how gears work. Explain the engineering design process, emphasizing the prototype and the redesign.
  • Tell them the requirements for their spin art makers. Examples of requirements are:
  •       Must have at least three gears
  •       Can be manual or electric
  •       Must use two different mediums (i.e. markers and paint, paint and crayons, etc)
  • Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their spin art design. Have them plan out and draw their design on the engineering planning sheet.
  • Distribute materials and have students start building. You may have to assist students with taping markers to their project.
  • After the students finish, review the activity with the class. Have them share their ideas, ask groups to explain what the hardest part of the challenge was, etc.
Extensions: Have students add more gears
Have students add more drawing utensils (more markers, etc)
Have students put their drawing utensils on different axes (i.e. one paintbrush horizontal and one marker vertical)
Have students add a sensor that causes something on their spin art maker to perform some act (i.e. when the light sensor senses white, the blue marker starts spinning)
Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
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