Machine Design: The Vocabulary of Motion

Eli Whitney Museum

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Choreographing Action

Thumbnail of Machine Design:  The Vocabulary of Motion project

For School Groups


A basic vocabulary of movements controls every mechanical device. Leonardo daVinci identified and drew the most important of these. Learn one of three classic arrangements to control the direction, speed and shape of movement. Invent an artful application for your device. Then, connect yours to someone else's machine and let them work together with a set or series of pulleys to combine movement and meaning.

Meets Connecticut Science Standards

  • 4.1: The position and motion of objects can be changed by pushing or pulling.
  • 7.1: Energy provides the ability to do work and can exist in many forms.

Meets Common Core Standards

  • 4-PS3: Energy
  • MS-PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

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