Build a LEGO drawing machine using DUPLO bricks. Turn the gears and make colorful circles. Change the distance of the pen arm to change the size of the circles. This simple and fun STEAM project for kids combines engineering with art. Check out the directions and watch the video to design and build your own machine that draws. I get commissions for purchases made through the affiliate links in this post.
DUPLO LEGO Drawing Machine
My kids have enjoyed playing with the DUPLO gears since Elon (the youngest) got the DUPLO My First Carousel set for his first birthday last April. They like to put random things on the gears and make them spin around. That got me to wondering if we could spin paper around and make some sort of drawing machine.
We used the gears from the DUPLO My First Carousel set. I believe the gears are in a few of the playground and fair sets as well. If you don’t have many gears, you could also use a DUPLO turntable.
Lay out the gears in a way that allows the drawing platform and pen holder tower to not interfere with each other. We added two additional plates to give us more space to work with.
We found two mostly flat bricks to use as the top of our drawing platform. (I don’t remember what set they are from.) You could also tape a piece of cardboard or a plastic lid to the top of a DUPLO plate. We added a few layers of bricks to raise the drawing platform up a bit.
The pen holder tower is mostly made of random decorative pieces placed on top of a gear. We also included a turntable. Originally, we had another gear between the red gear and the blue gear on the right. This caused the pen holder tower to spin around and the pen mostly stayed in place over the spinning drawing platform. This gave us a cool wavy pattern similar to a Spirograph. When we changed the pen color, we could not replicate the result. Instead the pen holder tower spun around and around. We removed the added gear and end up with the circle pattern you see.
The pen holder tower needs a long skinny plate. We added some bricks to the right side for counter weight. It prevents the pen from pulling the tower over. To attach the pen to the tower, we used a 2×4 gray plate with two holes. It came in the Siddeley Save the Day Cars 2 set. It’s used to attach the plane wheels to the plane. I’m not sure if a similar brick is available in any other sets. A Sharpie ultra fine marker fits perfectly in the hole. What other ways can you think of to attach a pen to the tower? Will a rubber band or tape help you?
We cut some paper to fit on our drawing platform and secured it with a piece of tape. We adjusted the pen so it just barely touched the paper. If the pen is allowed to sit on the paper, the ink soaks into the paper and makes an ink blot. Don’t place the pen on the paper until you are ready to turn it.
Watch the video to see the DUPLO LEGO drawing machine in action.
More Drawing Machines
- Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls builds a LEGO drawing machine whose drawings look like a Spirograph. The two arms of the machine result in the cool drawing patterns.
- Kiwico has a Tinkercrate with instructions and materials for building a geometric drawing machine.
More STEAM Projects for Kids
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