Art Activity Video: George Rickey

Create a kinetic sculpture using engineer-uity!

Activity best for children age 4 and up

George Rickey was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1907. When he was young, his family moved to Scotland where he learned to sail boats.  He learned how the sails moved by the force of the wind pushing on them and became interested in how other items worked too, like latches on windows, doorknobs, and more. Later in life, George joined the Army Air Corp as a mechanic and began to make sculptures from scrap metal around the base. When he left the army, he helped establish the art and history department at Muhlenberg College. This is when he became friends with David Smith, a famous American sculptor. David taught George how to weld stainless steel, and encouraged his friend to make larger sculptures. With his new skills and a life filled with learning about how things moved, he was ready to make sculpture that moved. We call this a “kinetic” sculpture! Kinetic means “an object in motion has energy to stay in motion.”

Today, you’ll get to create art that combines both creativity and engineer-uity! Get ready to make a kinetic sculpture just like the ones George Rickey created!

Materials you’ll need:




Plastic bowl/cup (for the base)

Large cap (for the base)

Heavy materials for weight (rice, dried beans or gravel for the base) 

Wooden Stick or dowel (for the mast)

Cardstock (for the mast)

Pipe cleaner (for the booms)

Straws (for the booms)

Beads (for the booms)

Paper (for the booms)

Post its (for the sails)

Small pieces of paper (for the sails)

Craft foam (for the sails)

Disposable cups (for the sails)


Gather materials for the base and the mast. Fill can with weights and trace on paper.

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM

Cut out the circle. Fold the circle in half. Hole punch the center of the circle

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM (1)

Tape the paper circle to the base. Push the wooden stick or dowel through the hole in the circle. Decorate the base with paper, stickers or other decorations.

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM (2)

Fold a pipe cleaner in half creating a loop OR hole punch a drinking straw.

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM (3)

Thread pasta, beads or other spacers through the dowel mast. Alternate between spacers and booms.

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM (4)

Roll up paper, post its or craft foam to create sails that move in the breeze.

Image 2 25 21 At 7.36 AM (5)

Explore Art by George Rickey!