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Complex movement can emerge from a very simple creation.


Keith and Kristen got excited about making these jitterbugs with kids: the materials are inexpensive and readily-available. With just a battery, a motor, and a counterweight, these little bugs will "jitter" all over your table.
stuff you need
  • 4 Paperclips for the legs
  • 1/2 of a hot-glue stick
  • Electric motor ( 3 volts DC or less, with wires attached if you can find them)
  • 1 AA Battery
  • Block of insulation foam (yellow or pink )
  • A finger-length strip of thin foam or fabric
  • Masking tape or colored tape
  • Craft materials to decorate your jitterbug: feathers, google-eyes, popsice sticks, pipe cleaners, glitter.

These are the basic materials we recommend for making a jitterbug. But the nice thing about this project is that you can substitute materials you have handy.

Push the shaft of the motor into the gluestick.Hold on to the sides of the motor so you don't break the wires.

Center the motor on one side of the block with the axel and glue stick sticking out from the end. Make sure the gluestick can spin freely without hitting the block.

Tape the motor down. Wrap the tape all the way around the block.
Next, you'll make a circuit with the battery, the motor, and wires. Tape a small foam/paper strip over the positive (+) end of the AA battery.
On the negative (-) side (the flat side), line up the wire to the center of the battery and...
... tape it down. Press hard with your thumb to make it stay in place
Now place the battery on the block. Center it on the block so the weight of the motor and battery balance each other. Tape the battery in place.

Next, make the legs. Now turn the block on its side to attach paperclip 'feet'

Open up a paperclip and push in the smaller end . . .

. . . and push each of them hard with your thumb. Then tape them into place.
Holding a finger or thumb on the tape, bend out the paper clip so they angle out a bit. This will make it more stable.
You can change the shapes of the legs by bending them.
Turn it over and set it down to see if it wobbles, you might like that!
Finally, give your bug some personality. Add eyes, wings, feathers. glitter.Once you have it decorated, you can start to play!
What else
Get some ideas for making animals out of paper.
Read about "e-insects" activity at the MIT museum

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