4.1b Science – Biology


Biology is the study of living things and their vital processes. It is subdivided into separate branches, though basic principles interrelate all the subdivisions. AutoSTEM automata can be used to study plants (botany) and animals (zoology). Sustainability and protection of the environment are relevant biological topics, too.

Automata related to biology

Some of the AutoSTEM automata depict animals, plants or parts of organisms. You can use them to teach biological concepts and principles.

  • The Jelly Bird: It depicts a bird. Thus, you can use it to teach about birds’ body parts, how birds fly, wing shapes, murmuration, flocks and much more. Additionally, the Jelly Bird mechanism can be used to depict other animals, for example, a fish or a human being.
  • The Talking Elephant: It depicts an elephant. Thus, you can use it to teach about elephants’ body parts, physical characteristics (skin, nose), movement, eating habits and much more.
  • The Snapping Crocodile: This is an automaton that uses the scissor arm mechanism. You can use this mechanism to depict a variety of different animals and plants. In our materials, you will find examples of crocodiles, dinosaurs, hippos, elephants, bees, and flowers.
  • The Grabbing Hand: This is a simplified model of a hand. You can use it to teach about the hand anatomy, especially how muscles and tendons move the fingers to grab something.
  • The Two Faces: It is a modification of the moving shapes mechanism. It can depict two animals, for example, two birds.
  • There are many more automata that you can use to teach about biological concepts and principles, for example, the Butterfly, the Acrobat, and the Dancing Doll.

Biological concepts and principles

In the following video, we explain how you can use AutoSTEM to teach biological concepts and principles.

The video explains how you can use AutoSTEM to teach biology, especially about different types of bird and animals, and how their bodies are adapted to their environments and styles of living.


  1. What do you think about the statements or assertions listed below? Do you agree, disagree, or do you feel the need to qualify? By qualify, we mean change, rephrase, restrict or modify the statement.
    • Using automata to teach biology is a diversion from authentic experiences of nature.
    • Automata can be a useful tool to help children understand how animals work.
    • The main purpose of automata when teaching biology is to facilitate conversation.
    • It is important that the children follow the instructions closely to avoid wrong conceptions about biology.
    • Making automata is an interdisciplinary activity that can support children’s understanding of several subjects in a single lesson.
  2. How would you use automata to support children’s understanding of the following subjects?
    • Evolution (e.g. adaptations to the environment)
    • Systematics (names of living organisms and how they are related)
    • Ecology (e.g. food chains)
    • Environmental biology (human impact on ecosystems)