Paper Mechatronics

October 1st, 2014 - September 30th, 2016 | PROJECT

The Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies Program funds efforts that support envisioning the future of learning technologies and advance what we know about how people learn in technology-rich environments. In this Cyberlearning EAGER project, the project team is developing foundations for using "paper mechatronics" as a learning technology. Paper mechatronics makes possible a craft-oriented approach to engineering and computing education that integrates key concepts from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control systems, and computer programming, while using paper as the primary material for learner design, exploration, and inquiry. In this approach, learners will design foldable paper components and assemblies; program motors, sensors and controls; test their ideas iteratively; and share their designs on a website. This paper-based modeling approach to learning concepts in and practices of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control systems, and computer programming ultimately aims to make it possible for all learners to have exposure to and the opportunity to participate in creative engineering, design, and computer programming.

The approach to learning through designing and making through paper mechatronics is made possible by a convergence of many different technological factors -- the array of small computers, sensors, and actuators that are becoming available at low cost and a size that children can use; availability of a wide variety of manipulable conductive materials (threads, paints, fabrics); low-cost and precise desktop and laser cutters for paper and similar materials; a wide variety of novel paper-like materials; and new ways of interacting with the computer. The approach has its foundations in Papert's constructionism and in the current maker movement, but it has potential beyond constructionism itself, both in practice and with respect to what can potentially be learned about learning and development in in context of its use. 

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Sherry Hsi, Former Principal Investigator, The Concord Consortium
Michael Eisenberg, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Colorado at Boulder - Craft Technology Lab


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Cyberlearning & Future Learning Technologies
Award Number: 1451463
Funding Amount: $232,928.00


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | General Public | Learning Researchers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Education and learning science | Engineering | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Public Programs