Dinosaurs in Motion: Must See Exhibit For Science and Artist Lovers!

Dinosaurs in Motion is an innovative display of life -sized dinosaurs and other creatures made out of recycled metal. This interactive display by North Carolina artist John Payne is sure to to inspire and ignite scientific exploration in kids of all ages.  John Payne’s ability to bridge art and science with items we consider scrap metal is simply amazing!

 If you cannot get to a museum with this exhibit, then I highly recommend spending four minutes watching this video on John Payne’s innovative work.   For children who love art and science it is a perfect merger of the two disciplines.  Even if you cannot see the exhibit in person you can get an idea of how he created his amazing creatures and even sketch or create your own out of recycled materials!



How Dinosaurs in Motion Creates a Day of STEAM for Kids:

Science: In addition to palentology, students learn kinetics, biomechanics and robotics by moving life-size dinosaurs with pulleys, levers and remote controls.  There are also stations where kids can manipulate circuits to change speed of a fan or turn on a light.

Moveable T Rex

Moveable T Rex

Light and Circuits

Light and Circuits

Moving a dinosaur

Moving a dinosaur


Art: Watch a brief video on the process and inspiration of John Payne’s artistic creations. Download the guide and sketch your own. If you don’t want to download the guide , the student can just draw their favorite dinosaur.  Looking at the engineering marvel of Mr. Payne’s creations is an inspiration to aspiring sculptors!  Also in the guide is information on how kids can create their own sculptures from recycled materials.   3rd-5th grade guide, 6-8th grade Dinosaurs in Motion guide

An example of John Payne's artistic beauty

An example of John Payne’s artistic beauty

Innovation:  Payne’s work is an example of great innovation.  He takes engineering , art, sculpting, and other disciplines to create truly unique masterpieces.  The downloadable teacher guide includes a section on designing a dinosaur using recycled materials.   Continue the fun of innovation and creativity back in the classroom or at home by having the children design their own prehistoric creature. Don’t like the suggested materials in the guide? No problem! Be an innovator and come up with your own materials. The sky’s the limit!

Explanation of Payne's innovative incorporation of controllers for movement of his dinosaurs

Explanation of Payne’s innovative incorporation of controllers for movement of his dinosaurs

Related Resources and Materials for Further Exploration

Museum exhibits usually spark our interest for futher immersion on a subject.   Therefore I usually download a guide for further information and ideas we may want pursue.  Also, we may get out resources at home . Dinosaurs in Motion incorporated many concepts we have recently explored in our homeschool and robotics club ,so when the kids got home they were inspired to work on redesigning their drawing robots from our robotics club.  Payne’s passion for engineering and design is contagious!

Here are some of our favorites related to the concepts in Dinosaurs in Motion that we have used:

Usborne Electricity and Magnetism This book is a fun interactive guide to electricity, circuits and magnetism.  We enjoy they hands on experiments and activities that use items from around the house.

Snap Circuits: The kids love our Elenco Snap Circuit set.   Clear and concise instruction book helps the novice and advanced circuit builder to build things such as a radio and doorbell.

Usborne Big Book of Dinosaurs My 4 year old loves this big book of fold out pages of different dinosaurs.  I like the timeline in the back that gives a visual of when each dinosaur roamed the earth.

Dinosaurs  This book reads and looks like a paleontologist’s notebook.  It is very interactive for kids with lift the flaps and pull out pages.  It is full of information for an elementary/middle school age student.

Unfortunately, January 16 was the last day for Dinosaurs in Motion at Discovery Place in Charlotte. If the exhibit comes to your city we highly recommend seeing it before it goes extinct. You will not regret the experience!  Perhaps John Payne says it best ” I like to always be learning…..an exhibit like this is an alternative form of education.”

Did you watch John Payne’s video and were your kids inspired to make a recycled prehistoric animal? If so post a picture in the comment section, I would love to see the innovative and creative ideas!



About Jennifer Walker, MS

I currently blog about mindfulness, meaningful life-learning, Montessori and Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
This entry was posted in Elementary, Field Trips, Science, Teens. Bookmark the permalink.

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