Animatronics Challenge

By admin

Come one, come all to witness this extraordinary, life-defying, awe-inspiring, battery-powered menagerie of animatronic creatures!

From February 1-29, we challenge you to invent an electronic creature or character using littleBits, then film it in action. We want to see you design a creature that mimics life, a character that has personality. Does it flutter it’s eyelashes? Have a distinctly pitched voice? Slither in an all too real way? These aren’t your typical metallic, mechanistic robots. Friends, we want nothing short of the illusion of life.

You can be….

  • a puppetmaster ninja by wirelessly controlling your characters from afar!
  • an electronic zoologist by designing an electronic version of your favorite animal or invent a completely new species!
  • a top performer by creating a mask that moves!
  • a merry prankster by building a scary stuffed animal that comes alive when you walk by!

Projects will be judged specifically on the following criteria:

  • Personality: Is your puppet unique and unforgettable?
  • How life-like it is: Do you use light, sound, and motion to create a life-like appearance?
  • Narrative: Did you build a story around your animatronic?
  • Documentation: Did you take pictures and video of your invention?


The winner will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges. She or he will receive a power-packed combo of Bits and status: a kit of your choice up to $200, a mentoring session with one of our superstar designers, a featured post in Meet the Inventors, and the opportunity to judge or help create future design challenges.



  1. Brainstorm your electronic creature. Is it an animal? A person? Does it move or speak or breathe? How do you want it to look? See Pro Tips for more ideas.
  2. Bring your character to life. Construct your circuit, then instill it with quirkiness. Remember: weirdness is wonderful. See Pro Tips for a few how-tos.
  3. Make a video. We want to see your creation in action. Create a short film featuring your animatronic.
  4. Share your masterpiece. Enter the challenge by uploading your animatronic or puppet to the community Invent page using #animatronicschallenge by February 29 at midnight EST.

Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  1. Build yourself a new friend or pet. Tell the story of how you met.
  2. Choose an inanimate object in your house and make it come to life. Tell the story of a flight it had with another object.
  3. Create a mythical animal. Tell the story of a past adventure.
  4. Make an animatronic version of a famous person. Recreate a famous scene that person is known for.



Inchworm by superyummywonton

Speech Puppet by PANTOGRAPH

Servo Operated Blinking Mechanism for a Puppet by Jeff Bragg

Busk Puppet by ccreed

Bio Betta by afrank

Puppet Master by littleBits

Animatronic Hand by littleBits

Workshop Guide – Coming soon!!
Animatronic Workshop by Ginger Alford and the condensed version over at Make Magazine.

  • This is a wonderful curriculum for the classroom or afterschool that unites electronics, storytelling, and design. Created by a computer science educator and a team of students, this resource has a bunch of materials to help you extend this design challenge into a larger unit.

Tips and Tricks: 10 Ways to Create Goofy Eyeballs



Joey Mazzarino
Joey Mazzarino is a writer/director/puppeteer. Mazzarino worked for over 20 years on Sesame Street where hereceived over 20 Emmys in multiple categories (Outstanding Original Song – Power of Yet, Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series). He served as head writer on the show from 2007-2015 as well and also performed the orange ball of furry energy known as Murray. Mazzarino also received a WGA award for his work on the prime time ABC special Elmo’s Christmas Countdown and has been nominated for two DGA awards. He is also co-writer of the feature films Elmo in Grouchland and Muppets From Space for which he received no awards. Mazzarino is currently writing on the new PBS series Nature Cat. He is also collaborating with Aron Accurso on an adult musical called Seeing Red that explores immigration issues through a fairy tale lens.

Claire O’Brien
I am an Artist, Mother and now a Maker! Fun past jobs have been working as a Fundraising Assistant for the wonderful Seven Stories (The National Centre for Children’s Books). Living and working in Venice, Italy for three magical months painting masks. My interest in animation came from doing an MA in Computer Animation, after doing this I went on to teach drawing and animation at various colleges, most recently Teesside University. These days I am a full-time Mum, working towards becoming a children’s picture book illustrator and about to start a part-time role as a Media Technician in a Primary School. I have just recently got interested in the Maker movement and have been using my local FabLab and inventing with littleBits. I entered the littleBits #BitWars challenge and won The Award-Winning Film category with my 2D Princess Leia zoetrope, made out of a polystyrene pizza base.

Alex Pikkert
I am Alex Pikkert and I live in the Netherlands.
I am a BSc. (Bachelor of Science), Electrical Engineering, and I have worked for Eaton Electrical in the Netherlands as sales engineer and product manager for medium voltage switchgear systems. (
I retired last year after fulfilling this job for 37 years. I have always been fascinated by electronics and automation since I was a kid and owned many engineering and construction sets. (Lego, Philips Electrical and Mechanical Engineering sets, Fischer Technik, Arduino.etc). When I discovered LittleBits last year I really started to like the possibilities of the system, it is the “Lego of the future”. It is so easy to add additional electronic functionality to so many projects, and it is great fun meeting and discussing with all the other bitsters worldwide!



Are you already a master maker? We challenge YOU to become a mentor maker. Use this design challenge as an opportunity to help someone else invent. It can be as simple as <3ing a project you like, commenting on project ideas in the forums, or giving a friend some constructive feedback about their prototype. You can level up by running a workshop, having a family maker night, or offering to share your expertise on one part of the project. Tell us what happened over at!



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