Project Description

My 8th grade PLTW Automation & Robotics students at Liberty Junior School (Lakota) have just completed a Pull Toy design challenge project. For the project, they used the engineering design process to design, build, and test a pull toy that employed at least three mechanisms with the goal of learning about and creating mechanical systems. The objective of this design challenge was for the rotation of the wheels on the toy to drive actions on top of the toy, with the motion/energy of the wheels being transferred through the system they designed. I’ve created a shared folder with pictures and short videos of their pull toy builds, along with the PLTW Design Process, Pull Toy design brief and the list of criteria/constraints that their projects met.


With their knowledge of mechanisms, teams of students (2-3 students per group) use the engineering design process to design and build a mechanism or series of mechanisms that meet the following criteria:

  • The mechanism is to be built entirely from VEX parts. (Decorations on the toy can include paper, materials and artwork that is NOT made from VEX parts.)
  • The pull toy is to be built on a small, four-wheel chassis capable of being pulled across a smooth and level surface where the toy will move as a result of the movement of the wheels.
  • The pull toy should use AT LEAST 3 of the mechanisms students previously built as part of the “Mechanisms Passport” assignment.
  • Mechanism(s) attached to the wheels will make at least one other part of the pull toy move.
"Students successfully met the design challenge and the learning objectives for the project. Student voice and choice was a big part of the project as they were able to decide what mechanisms they wanted to include in their design, along with the theme/characters employed in their final build. After all of the projects were completed, my 8th grade Automation & Robotics students demonstrated their designs in a "pull toy parade" in Mr. Noxsel's 7th grade Design & Modeling classes."
— Mr. Hodge, teacher
"Several students commented that this was "really fun, but really hard" because they had complete responsibility for the design, building, and testing of their creation, from the ground up. Students truly owned the process and the results of this project."

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