Workshop h⚆wt⚇: circular transformers, hacking toys ° o

Workshop H⚆wT⚇: Circular Transformers, Hacking Toys °°

Summary / Summary

GERMAN: “Circular Transformers” is a workshop where kids bring along old plastic toys and other disused plastic parts. In their plastic parts they drill a hole pattern. So they create their own modular components, with which they then build “Circular Transformers”. At the end one can still document everything, e.g. using a stop motion animation of the Transformer. A complete guide to the workshop is below. (Complete photoalbum is here)

ENGLISH: “Circular Transformers” is a workshop where you can bring your own plastic or plastic parts and drill them into their own modular parts. They want to document this by making a stop motion animation of the transformer. They learn about modularity, compatibility, standards and sustainability. A full documentation of the workshop is posted below in german. Reach out to us for a translation or use an online translator. (Complete Workshop Flickr album)

Throughs / Examples

Berlin 2018

As part of the project Palace of projects in the Fichtelgebirge primary school in the fall of 2018 in Berlin. 24 children, 3 days. Portraits of all Transformers and animations can be found on this page.

[1] Lörrach 2018

In Lörrach with the Juniorlab (by Start Coding e.V.) in the Werkraum Schöpflin in August 13-15, 2018. 36 children, 3 days, 12 children per day. Photographs made with cheap Chromebooks and

Schedule / modules:

Complete instructions in freely combinable sections.

You can do the workshop in different time windows. The Transformer building itself with introductory round at the beginning and final meeting at the end takes about 4.5 hours (with breaks) – see process below. Adding stop-motion animations adds another 1.5 hours. In addition, the workshop can be extended by e.g. lengthy preliminary discussions, developing stories on the resulting Transformers or e.g. the design of a packaging for the result.

material- & tool list


  • Several Cordless Screwdriver (one for 3 to 5 children, it is enough very weak screwdrivers, it does not need to be drills, screwdrivers are i.d.R strong enough for plastic.) A stronger cordless drill should be held, however, if a thicker piece of plastic is there),
  • 5s wood drill for the cordless screwdriver (5 mm drill bit for M4 screws, as the plastic slightly recedes after drilling and slightly narrows the drill hole),
  • Pliers and clamps (for holding the workpieces while drilling) – one pliers per drill and half as many screw clamps,
  • screwdriver and wrench in larger numbers (ideally almost one set for each child),
  • 3 Filzsstifte to the sign of the holes,
  • 1 hammer,
  • 2 safety goggles,
  • 1 cutter,
  • 2 to 3 strong shave (a lot of plastic can be easily cut with a pair of scissors),
  • 1 shears for very strong plastic pieces,
  • cutting mats and pieces of wood as drilling pads,
  • 2 goggles (for coarser cutting, rather rare in use),
  • (Optional) laptops or Tablets With Internet connection; 1 to 3 to 4 kids. You must have a camera of the highest quality possible for shooting the images, the Internet connection is necessary for the benefit of an online gif maker such. If you use a program installed on the computer instead, it may be u.U. the internet connection away.
  • (Optional) Pens, colors, scissors, etc. for the construction of the packaging


  • Plastic parts: They are everywhere with some attention. They are on the street and in the basement. Broken and old toys, cans, household appliances etc. Plastic lids of beverage bottles work very well. Some glass bottles have plastic lids that are extra strong. Whenever possible, you should use unlabeled plastic parts (ie those without brand names). Lid can be found in larger numbers i.d.R. unscrew from empty boxes in a beverage trade and on construction sites or in hardware stores there are larger amounts of strong plastic tape tied to the pallets (see the green legs and arms of the examples above) and which is good for cutting and drilling. This one has in any case a good basic equipment.
  • screw & nuts: A larger number of M4 bolts and nuts. We have a larger number of 10mm screws and then go up to 90mm in increments of 5 or 10 (10, 16, 20, 25, 30 … 60, 70, 80, 90). In addition, there are wing nuts, washers in different sizes and – very important! – Eye bolts in different lengths (15, 20, 30, 40mm). We also have knurled nuts. However, buying so many screws may involve some costs. If you only want to do the workshop once, a smaller selection is enough.
  • Metal construction parts: We also provide the children with a selection of finished metal construction parts in the workshop (see below). We use parts of the brand Construction of the company Eitech. The company Eitech has been around for a long time and has already produced identical metal construction kits in the GDR under the name “Construction”. Just the DDR boxes you get with a bit of luck for very little money on Ebay.
  • (Optional) material for the construction of the packaging


  • Staff: Ideal are 2 adults to 12 kids. 2 adults are minimum. In the second part, one person is responsible for looking after the animations while the other person is responsible for the building. You can also try it with more children. Will we do and report if necessary.
  • Room: A larger room with tables and chairs and good light for all stations (see below).
  • Examples: You should at least build an example at home, which shows the children and possibly even make a GIF with it. But otherwise you can fall back on the gifs from this guide at the opening (the 4 above).
  • Material Call: If you invite the children for the workshop, you can ask them beforehand to bring along plastic parts such as shampoo bottles, old toys, etc.

Precut plastic parts, disassembled toys, etc. Example from Lörrach (see below) Results from the Fichtelgebirge elementary school. More of it here Example from Lörrach (see below) Example from Lörrach (see below)

Room: 4 workstations.

Transformer building with animation requires 4 different workstations:

STATION 1: Planning and screwing

Ideally, the largest station or the center; Here also welcome and debriefing can take place. On the table are bowls with nuts and bolts. There are also screwdrivers, keys and scissors ready.

Plan and build

STATION 2: Material

The material on the material table is divided into 3 stacks:

  • Stack I: Metal construction kits: A larger bowl with the metal components
  • Stack II: Precut Plastic Parts: A wider choice of colorful plastic parts that you can drill directly. Pre-cut or ready to use as e.g. Lid, etc.
  • Stack III: Unprocessed plastic parts: Here the children unload their plastic parts or you store larger pieces from which you later want to cut out something etc.

Stack I (metal parts) & Stack II (ready to drill plastic parts)

STATION 3: Drilling

A small table on the edge with cutting mats, pieces of wood, pliers, cordless drums and felt-tip pens to mark. Ideally, the table is free, so you can approach from all sides.


STATION 4: Animation

Good light and good backgrounds are important for good pictures. The laptops (the photo setup) are here. A lot of space so that the children do not get in each other’s way, throw shadows on each other or shake the animations.

animation station

Time: expiration

Introduction, construction, animation, final discussion: This is how it goes through a 6-hour workshop with animation.

greeting & introduction

  • Introductory round: Who is sitting here at the table.
  • Workshop presentation: What will happen today: Transformers show, transformations show (transformation by flipping, turning, folding and animation by conversion), play animations on a laptop (download animations in large versions from here.)
  • Work order: Each child first takes 5 metal parts from stack 1 and 5 plastic parts from stack 2. Then they drill the parts and make ideas about what they want to build with it. Later, they can supplement as many plastic parts as they like. You can replace the metal parts at any time. But never take more than 5 pieces of metal.
  • Who finished is going to the animation station. (The children will have different speeds, so not all of them arrive at the animation station at once).
  • Marking and drilling point with safety instruction,
  • Possibly show some screw connections: What can you do with eye bolts (angles and joints), when can you use wing nuts (for quick loosening and tightening of joints), how can you make rolling wheels (screw the lid tightly to the axle with two nuts) that the axle is not turning the wheel on the axle.)


Do not forget breaks. Help kids find parts in Stack III and show them how to cut things out with scissors and tin snips. For stubborn parts put on goggles before!

Introduce them all individually in the laptops and animations and look after them. Remember to save the animations and pictures e.g. on a stick.

final discussion

Tidying everything together and then sitting at the big table, everyone has their built Transformers in front of them.

  • Who wants his transformer imagine? Say something?
  • Together, all created today animations look at.
  • What does all this have? sustainability to do? Querying or explaining concepts such as: plastic waste (in the oceans), reuse, upcycling, screwing is better than gluing because it is removable, modularity, standards, reparability, +
  • Feedback: How did you like it?
  • Give a link where children can download their animations.
  • The kids are allowed to keep their Transformers.

Extensions (optional)

If you want to fill more than 6 hours with the workshop or transport more content or experiment more things, extensions are possible. Here are some ideas from us, but we have not tried them yet:

  • Longer preliminary talk to the brought plastic parts: It makes stronger that the children should bring disused toys or other plastic parts. In the introductory round, each child is asked to introduce his / her own plastic parts. And you talk about it: how was it used? What would happen to it now? Why are you no longer interested in it? Etc.
  • Invent stories: When the Transformers are done asking the children to come up with stories and write them down: What’s the name of the Transformer? In which world does he / she live? What adventures can he / she endure? What does he / she spend her time with? The invention of the stories can be simplified by templates. It creates “data sheets” to the Transformers.
  • Build packaging: Following the example of Lego Ideas (Lego’s Open Innovation Platform), we imagine that Eitech has a similar platform for its metal construction kits and continue to develop our Transformers as new Eitech products. This includes e.g. the design of a package that includes a name and visual design, and possibly even assembly instructions for the Transformer.
  • Other ideas? We are sure that others will come up with other great expansion ideas. Report to us and share your idea. We’ll record it here.

If you gave the kids a link from which they can download their stuff, then you should also upload the stuff there ;-).

Anyone who has carried out this workshop in such a way or in a modification, can also send us the link to the results. We are very curious: mifactori [at]

We always upload our pictures here: Circular Transformers Flickr album


[1] Lörrach 2018

In Lörrach with the Juniorlab (by Start Coding e.V.) in the Werkraum Schöpflin in August 13-15, 2018. 36 children, 3 days, 12 children per day. Photographs made with cheap Chromebooks and

Berlin 2018

The workshop was part of the project “Palace of Projects”, which was funded by the Berlin Project Fund for Cultural Education.

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