- Magazines, junk mail, and other disposable picture sources
When engineers set out to design something, they typically have a purpose (or function) in mind. What would happen if the process went backwards and the purpose of an invention followed its form?
For this activity, you'll need pictures (from magazines, brochures, junk mail, etc.) of mechanical or electronic things. Next, cut the pictures into smaller pieces: the wheels or headlights of a car, the keyboard from a computer, the keypad from a telephone, and so on. Place the cut out pictures in a bowl and have each of the participants in the activity reach into the bowl, close their eyes, and retrieve a handful. Each person now combines the pieces into a device, appliance, or some other machine, and then explains what the contraption does.
You can vary the activity by setting a time limit for creating a contraption. Or you can play so that others have to guess what the device does. Another alternative is to have everyone finish making his or her machine, then hand out a surprise piece that must be incorporated at the last minute. The possibilities are endless—and so are the goofy gizmos that can result!