Hands-on Activity: Engineering Pop-Ups
Educational Standards :
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
Materials List (Return to Contents)
Each group needs:
For the entire class to share:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
History of Paper Engineering (As modified from University of Northern Texas)
Have you ever read a pop-up book? How do they work? When were they invented?
The first movable books were created for educational purposes as early as the 15th century, almost 500 years ago! One of the first books was an anatomy book that used flaps for each layer of the human body. This book was created in 1553 by Andreas Vesalius. People start creating movable books for recreational purposes hundreds of years later. This time, the books used flaps to reveal different adventure scenes in a story.
During the 19th century, the London publishing house of S. & J. Fuller mass-produced the first paper dolls. Lotha Meggendorfer, a German artist created the first multiple and simultaneously moving parts book. He used an intricate system of copper wires and paper tabs to create this effect. Three-dimensional books, in which the images stood up from the pages, were created after 1929.
Engineers and artists think about forces when designing or building something. What is a force? (Answer: A push or pull on an object.) Not all forces occur naturally like wind and gravity. People can create forces using energy that originates from the food they eat. This occurs when we push someone on a swing, use our feet to push a skateboard or pull someone in a wagon. When we read pop-up books we apply very small forces (pushes or pulls) to tabs and flaps to make them move.
Engineers and artists take into consideration the impact of manmade forces on an object they design, as well as natural ones. For example, is it important for an engineer to consider the impact of the accumulated weight of many people as they walk across a floor on the second story of a building? Even the smallest forces need to be taken into account. Any push or pull that affects the balance of a structure, large or small, must be thought about by engineers and artists during the design and creation process. In making pop-up or moving books, the creators are called "paper engineers."
The Engineering Design Process
Engineers design and build all types of structures, systems and products that are important in our everyday lives. The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineering teams use to guide them as they solve problems:
Engineers use their science and math knowledge to explore all possible options and compare many design ideas. This is called open-ended design because when you start to solve a problem, you don't know what the best solution will be. The process is cyclical and may begin at, and return to, any step.
The use of prototypes, or early versions of the design (or a model or mock-up) helps the design process by improving the understanding of the problem, identifying missing requirements, evaluating design objectives and product features, and getting feedback from others.
Engineers select the solution that best uses the available resources and best meets the project's requirements. They consider many factors: Cost to make and use, quality, reliability, safety, functionality, ease of use, aesthetics, ethics, social impact, maintainability, testability, manufacturability.
In this activity (or the next time you decide to design/build something from scratch) think about the engineering design process. It helps you think through all aspects of a problem to find a good solution.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
This activity is suggested to take place during two, one-hour class periods on two different days. Day 1 is for research, writing, drawing, brainstorming, planning and organizing. Day 2 is for construction of the pop-up book.
Before the Activity
With the Students
Safety Issues (Return to Contents)
Troubleshooting Tips (Return to Contents)
Since some students get frustrated coming up with their own designs, it may be helpful to check out some "how-to make your own pop-up books" from the library or search the Internet for helpful ideas to supply to students. See the Reference section for some book suggestions.
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Discussion Questions: Ask the students and discuss as a class:
Activity Embedded Assessment
Brainstorming: As a class, have the students engage in open discussion to come up with unique ways to make their book illustrations move. Remind students that engineers use brainstorming all the time to come up with great ideas. In brainstorming, no idea or suggestion is "silly." All ideas should be respectfully heard. Take an uncritical position, encourage wild ideas and discourage criticism of ideas. Have them raise their hands to respond. List their ideas on the board so they can refer to them as the teams plan their books.
Presentation: When all the student teams have completed their pop-up books, have them present to the class. They should be able to explain the path that a force takes to cause their books to move. Have students comment on: Who is the end-user of their book? How did they select the pop-up ideas they used? How well do the pop-ups function? Do they have any ideas for improvement? How did using the steps of the engineering design process work for their team?
Recap Questions: As a class, ask students to review with you the steps in the engineering design process. (Answers: Understand the need, brainstorm and design, plan, create, improve. See details in the Introduction/Motivation section.)
Activity Extensions (Return to Contents)
Ask the students where else engineers want forces to "travel." For example, in the construction of buildings and bridges, engineers want to make sure the forces (people, desks, cars, snow, wind, weight of the walls and roof, etc.) can be safely transferred to solid foundations. They do this by adding up all the potential forces that could be applied to a structure and drawing free-body diagrams — drawings that help visualize how forces act upon an object, This method helps engineers design structures that do not collapse under the impact of many forces. Ask students to research free-body diagrams on the Internet and report back to class with an example.
Have the student research the history of pop-up books and write a one-page paper.
Have the students brainstorm about other art forms that use moving pieces. For homework, have them create a piece of moving art, and explain which forces make it move and why.
Invite a "paper engineer" to speak to your class.
Activity Scaling (Return to Contents)
References (Return to Contents)
Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Accessed February 9, 2005. (Source of vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation) http://www.dictionary.com
Engineering, Is It You? The Design Process. Micron Technology, Inc.. Accessed February 8, 2005. http://www.micron.com/students/engineer/design.html
Hiner, Mark. Paper Engineering for Pop-Up Books and Cards. Stradbroke. Diss. Norfolk, England: Tarquin Publications, 1986.
Hiner, Mark. Pop-up Books and Paper Engineering. Updated 2002. Mark Hiner, Paper Engineer. Accessed February 8, 2005. (Great resource) http://www.markhiner.co.uk/
Irvine, Joan. How to Make Pop-Ups. Illustrated by Barbara Reid. Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press, 1987 or New York, NY: William Morrow & Co, 1988. Also see Joan Irvine Children's Books at http://www.makersgallery.com/joanirvine/books.html
Jackson, Paul. The Pop-Up Book: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating Over 100 Original Paper Projects. New York, NY: Owl Books, 1994.
Montanaro, Ann. A Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books. Updated 2004. The POP-UP World of Ann Montanaro, Rutgers University Libraries, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Accessed April 1, 2004. (A World Wide Web exhibition that includes images an amazing pop-up book collection) http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/montanar/p-intro.htm
Pop-up and Movable Books: A Tour through Their History, Introduction: A Brief History of Early Movable Books. University of Northern Texas Libraries. Accessed February 8, 2005. http://www.library.unt.edu/rarebooks/exhibits/popup2/introduction.htm
ContributorsNatalie Mach, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Denise W. Carlson
Copyright© 2005 by Regents of the University of Colorado.
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder
Last Modified: April 17, 2014