Here’s a fun STEM project – make a paper horse that walks on its own!
A few months ago, I saw this really interesting project on Pinterest where you can make a horse out of paper that really walks on its own down an incline, and I’ve been wanting to try it. Well, our mandatory time at home right now provided just the opportunity!
We found this paper horse project on this website via Pinterest. The video in the post showed us how to cut and fold the horse, but there were no further instructions.
After trying it out, here’s what we think:
The project takes a little fiddling, but it’s SO FUN when you get your horse walking! Amazing!
This project is best for middle school and up, but younger kids will LOVE watching it! Most younger kids will probably not be able to cut/fold it as precisely as it needs in order for it to work. However, it’s perfect for a parent or older sibling to make together with a younger child.
This project has some really great PHYSICS LEARNING to it! I’ll explain more further down. Definitely a great STEM project.
We made our horses out of construction paper. You can cut 2 or 3 out of one piece of paper.
Use a metric ruler to draw the shape below. Start with a rectangle that is 15 cm by 4.5 cm. Then divide it up as shown. Cut around the perimeter of the rectangle. Then cut the DOTTED LINES inside the rectangle.
I labeled the legs, head, body, and tail for your benefit, but you don’t need to do that, obviously!
Cut out your horse as shown.
Curl the tail (I know horses tails aren’t curled like that, but it seems to make it balance better) and fold the head.
Now it’s time to make your horse walk!
Here’s how it works:
The paper horse walks by rocking back and forth on its curved feet. As the horse rocks from one foot to the other, gravity pulls the feet down the incline.
So it rocks to the right, and the left foot (which is no longer touching the board) moves forward. It rocks to the left, and the right foot moves forward. It’s pretty cool to watch!
Here’s a photo that shows the shape of the feet:
The surface that the horse walks on is important! It needs to have enough friction, but not too much.
We first tried a large picture book with one end propped up. The horse just slid right down it, no matter the height of the slope!
Then we tried putting a piece of felt on top of the book. This increased the friction, and the horse did a little bit of the correct motion. However, it was too much friction.
So then we tried a sheet of craft foam, and it was just right!
You can see our setup below. Your ramp doesn’t need to be this long! A shorter ramp will still allow the horse to do plenty of walking. We just build a long ramp in order to get good photos and video for you.
Want to see it in action? Here’s a video demonstration!
Click the play button to start the video.
If you can’t get your horse to walk, make sure that the legs are nice and straight.
Try adjusting the height of the head. For whatever reason, our horse walked the best when his head was up high.
Adjust the height of your slope. If the horse won’t walk, make it higher. If the horse tips forward, make it lower.
If your horse is not rocking back and forth smoothly, try trimming the feet to make them rounded. They should work like rocking chair runners! The outside edge should be the highest point.
Need more STEM ideas? We’ve got lots!
You might want to try making Hot Ice out of baking soda and vinegar.
We also have 10 LEGO STEM Projects that every kid should try!