Question Sheet: Shape Shifting


Before reading:

  1. In what ways do you communicate with your friends? What sorts of

    technologies do you rely on to stay in touch with them? 

  2. How might you improve a picture or camera phone to make it more useful to


During reading:

  1. What is claytronics, and how does it work? 
  2. How does claytronics differ from imaging systems now in use? 
  3. Describe a catom. How are scientists trying to improve these objects? 
  4. Name three possible uses of claytronics.

After reading:

  1. Would you consider a pile of catoms to be one robot or many robots? Why

    might both descriptions make sense? 

  2. Why do you think this new technology was named claytronics? What might it have to do with clay animation (Claymation)? See (ThinkQuest) and 
  3. What does Goldstein mean when he explains that right now the researchers are

    focusing on catoms that move in two dimensions across a flat surface? Why would catoms eventually need to work in three dimensions? 

  4. Make a list of reasons why it might be very difficult to develop claytronics

    technology. What sorts of problems would have to be overcome for this technology to succeed? 

  5. What possible applications of claytronics seem most important? Why? 
  6. What potential problems could come up if claytronics were to become widely



Claytronics offer possibilities for criminal behavior. What kinds of laws would we need to protect people if we lived in a world where claytronics was widely used for communication and other purposes?


  1. Design an educational video game that would take advantage of claytronics.

    How might you use claytronics to make the game more realistic? 

  2. Is this article promoting claytronics, or is it against it or neutral to the

    idea? Find three places where the article promotes, discourages, or presents a

    balanced view of this new technology.


A necklace consists of 7 beads and a clasp. How many different necklaces can be made if 6 beads are of the same size and color and 1 bead is larger?