My project is to show sand-powered automata and demo how they work. I will have several samples for people to try out. I will also have some deconstructed ones that I can take apart to show people how they work. Basically, a small hopper holds sand which falls and makes a paddle wheel spin. The rotating axle of the paddle wheel is connected to a little puppet that can spin or dance. They are pretty small, so the automata would easily fit on a table-top. I also plan to have some free coloring pages of the characters in the automata so kids can cut them out and make their own little dancing puppets.
Sand-powered toys were popular in the late 1800s. Based on the original Victorian designs, I’ve made little shadow boxes that use sand, a paddle wheel and gravity to make characters spin and dance.