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STEAM: Whale Automata

Download Activity Guide
The school theme for National Science Week 2018 is Game Changers and Change Makers. Taking inspiration from Year of the Reef, this Whale Automata project is a fun way to explore the components of a simple machine and observing force and mechanics at work.
  • Step 1 Print out the template provided. We suggest printing onto Cover Paper as this provides a great surface for decorating.
  • Step 2 Draw a reef scene lightly onto your cup, noting the open end will be the base. Use tempera paints to decorate your scene as well as the whales and waves on the template. Allow to dry and then cut out the template pieces. Adult supervision is recommended when using scissors.
  • Step 3 Use a pencil to create a hole in the top of the cup. Cut a piece of straw approximately 4cm long and push through the hole. Tape the straw in place so there is approximately 2cm sticking out the top.
  • Step 4 Cut a piece of armature wire approximately 16cm long. Approximately 3.5cm from one end, bend the wire at a 90 degree angle. Continue along approximately 1.5cm and bend at 90 degrees again. Repeat this twice more at 1.5cm intervals to create a square bump in the wire as shown. Take a small bright bead and thread it onto the wire so that it sits in the middle of the square. Be sure the bead can move and spin freely on the wire. Please note you may need to adjust your measurements based on the position of your straw.
  • Step 5 Take a skewer and push it through the cup approximately 2cm from the base so there is a hole in either side of the cup. Take the crank and from the inside of the cup, thread the long side through one of the holes first. Push the shorter end through the other hole and align the bead to be directly under the straw. It’s at this point you may need to make adjustments to your crank if the short end is too short and the bead and straw aren’t aligned. Thread a bead onto the short end and bend the wire so it holds in place. Thread another bead onto the long end and bend the wire into a handle.
  • Step 6 Push the blunt end of the skewer down the straw and hold it so it is sitting flush against the bead on the crank. Make sure the bead is sitting at its lowest position. Cut the top of the skewer off so approximately 2cm is sticking out above the straw. Take the skewer out of the straw and trim the off cut piece of skewer to approximately 3cm long. Use a glue gun to create a ’T’ shape with the skewer pieces. Allow to dry. Thread the skewer back down the straw and use a glue gun to attach to the bead on the crank. Allow to dry. Now when you turn the crank, the skewer should bob up and down!
  • Step 7 Use tape to attach the whales to the ’T’ of the skewer, one on each side. Wrap the waves around the top of the cup and fasten with tape to complete your automata.

Materials used in this activity

Wooden Skewers - Pack of 100
Optional
Product Code: 10014
EACH $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)
3 or more $2.13 (inc GST) $1.94 (ex GST)          
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Student Scissors - Pack of 20
Optional
Product Code: 10897
EACH $43.99 (inc GST) $39.99 (ex GST)
2 or more $30.79 (inc GST) $27.99 (ex GST)          
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Product Code: 11085
EACH $5.49 (inc GST) $4.99 (ex GST)
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CleverPatch Glue Gun - Low Melt
Optional
Product Code: 11208
EACH $14.29 (inc GST) $12.99 (ex GST)
10 or more $10.71 (inc GST) $9.74 (ex GST)          
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CleverPatch Glue Gun Glue Sticks - Clear - Pack of 12
Optional
Product Code: 11209
EACH $5.49 (inc GST) $4.99 (ex GST)
20 or more $3.84 (inc GST) $3.49 (ex GST)          
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CleverPatch Tempera Paint Palette Set - 10 Well
Optional
Product Code: 11990
EACH $8.79 (inc GST) $7.99 (ex GST)
30 or more $6.15 (inc GST) $5.59 (ex GST)          
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Armature Wire - 3mm x 50m
Optional
Product Code: 14294
EACH $54.99 (inc GST) $49.99 (ex GST)
3 or more $38.49 (inc GST) $34.99 (ex GST)          
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CleverPatch Cover Paper - White - A4 - Pack of 250
Optional
Product Code: 16142
EACH $18.69 (inc GST) $16.99 (ex GST)
4 or more $13.08 (inc GST) $11.89 (ex GST)          
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Bright Round Wooden Beads - 250g Pack
Optional
Product Code: 16619
EACH $14.29 (inc GST) $12.99 (ex GST)
5 or more $9.89 (inc GST) $8.99 (ex GST)          
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Recyclable Paper Straws - Pack of 250
Optional
Product Code: 17671
EACH $16.49 (inc GST) $14.99 (ex GST)
10 or more $9.89 (inc GST) $8.99 (ex GST)          
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Clear Sticky Tape - 18mm x 66m
Optional
Product Code: 17769
EACH $3.29 (inc GST) $2.99 (ex GST)
32 or more $1.64 (inc GST) $1.49 (ex GST)          
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