Class developed and conducted by Tony Yao

This may have been one of the few times that I actually indulged myself a bit and picked a subject matter near and dear to my own heart, Transformers!

This was another one of those amazing projects that I did with my high school students.  We had done some pretty amazing ones, but this one takes the cake for the toughest one in my teaching career.  Since I started teaching high school students, we have consistently upped the bar for every project, but this one may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The project was called Transformers: Mythos”, and each student had to design a Transformer based on a mythological creature from different ancient cultures.  Imagine if a Tranformers “spark” landed an ancient Greece, or in the Mayan civilization, and adopted the characteristics of the local culture’s urban legend or deity.  We had legendary beasts like the Minotaur, the Sphinx, the Trojan horse, the ancient Chinese Dragon, the Kraken, and Quetzalcoatl.  I wanted playable working Transformers toys based on these mythological beasts.  I wanted the students to sculpt, cannibalize, and engineer these toys work.  Too much to ask for, maybe…

Looking back on the criteria of deliverables I wanted from my high school students, it must have seemed like I wanted the world from them.  Each student did about 50 pages of concept design in full render with marker, build “working” physical Transformers toys, and as if that wasn’t enough… every student had to build their own 6ft x 6ft “pop-up” book canson rendering.  I even wanted the giant rendering (the size of 2 doors) to transform when opened, so it could appear 3D.  We also built an 8ft x 8ft hand cut Transformers logo sign that could light up from the inside featuring both the Autobot and Decepticon logos; as well as plexi-glass display cases.

Could I ask any more of these poor high school students?  And all in 10 weeks! I don’t think I had ever asked so much from any of my classes; although 1:1 scale construction vehicles was close.  It was tough term for all, but the end we prevailed and achieved what we set out to do.