Activity Introduction

 In this lesson, students dive into the concept of ‘the Machine’ as it relates to both mechanical effectiveness and societal control. They will experience machine-driven decision-making, embody mechanical processes and have the opportunity to respond artistically to the notion of ‘cogs in the machine’. Students will critically reflect on how breaking free and helping others to do so can impact positively on social equity, community connection and personal relationships. 

Find all the IMAGI-NATION{TV} episodes on AIME’s YouTube channel.

Time required: 70+ minutes

Tips for Teachers

This lesson is designed to be flexible for use with various year levels and across the curriculum. It can easily be tailored or expanded to focus more deeply on the skills that students are exploring in their classroom context. For example, Arts teachers could focus on the artistic potential of cogs, machines, or rebelling against authority, English teachers could focus on literacy and narrative elements contained in the Cogs animation and Health teachers could focus on the community and relational values of breaking free, giving others a helping hand and address the imbalances within systems of power.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will examine the idiom ‘cogs in the machine’
  • Students will understand systems of control and inequity
  • Students will reclaim the machine through art.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Primary  Secondary

Choose by subject for Primary year level mapping:

Health & Physical Education 

Years 5 & 6 Health & Physical Education

  • Practise skills to establish and manage relationships (ACPPS055)
  • Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour and relationships (ACPPS056)
  • Identify how valuing diversity positively influences the wellbeing of the community (ACPPS060)

Year 5 English

  • Identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural and historical contexts (ACELT1608)
  • Show how ideas and points of view in texts are conveyed through the use of vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, objective and subjective language, and that these can change according to context (ACELY1698)

Year 6 English

  • Make connections between students’ own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1613)
  • Compare texts including media texts that represent ideas and events in different ways, explaining the effects of the different approaches (ACELY1708)
Media Arts

Years 5 & 6 Media Arts

  • Plan, produce and present media artworks for specific audiences and purposes using responsible media practice (ACAMAM064)
  • Explain how the elements of media arts and story principles communicate meaning by comparing media artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media artworks (ACAMAR065)

Years 5 & 6 Music

  • Rehearse and perform music including music they have composed by improvising, sourcing and arranging ideas and making decisions to engage an audience (ACAMUM090)

Years 5 & 6 Drama

  • Rehearse and perform devised and scripted drama that develops narrative, drives dramatic tension, and uses dramatic symbol, performance styles and design elements to share community and cultural stories and engage an audience (ACADRM037)

Years 5 & 6 Dance

  • Explore movement and choreographic devices using the elements of dance to choreograph dances that communicate meaning (ACADAM009)
Visual Arts

Years 5 & 6 Visual Arts

  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115)

Choose by subject for Secondary year level mapping:

Health & Physical Education 

Years 7 & 8 Health & Physical Education

  • Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing (ACPPS074)
  • Analyse factors that influence emotions and develop strategies to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity (ACPPS075)
  • Investigate the benefits to individuals and communities of valuing diversity and promoting inclusivity (ACPPS079)

Years 9 & 10 Health & Physical Education

  • Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships (ACPPS093)
  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses (ACPPS094)
  • Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities (ACPPS098)

Year 7 English

  • Compare the ways that language and images are used to create character, and to influence emotions and opinions in different types of texts (ACELT1621)
  • Recognise and analyse the ways that characterisation, events and settings are combined in narratives, and discuss the purposes and appeal of different approaches (ACELT1622)
  • Understand and explain how the text structures and language features of texts become more complex in informative and persuasive texts and identify underlying structures such as taxonomies, cause and effect, and extended metaphors (ACELA1531)

Year 8 English

  • Understand and explain how combinations of words and images in texts are used to represent particular groups in society, and how texts position readers in relation to those groups (ACELT1628)
  • Recognise and explain differing viewpoints about the world, cultures, individual people and concerns represented in texts (ACELT1807)
  • Identify and evaluate devices that create tone, for example humour, wordplay, innuendo and parody in poetry, humorous prose, drama or visual texts (ACELT1630)

Year 9 English

  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Analyse texts from familiar and unfamiliar contexts, and discuss and evaluate their content and the appeal of an individual author’s literary style (ACELT1636)
  • Investigate and experiment with the use and effect of extended metaphor, metonymy, allegory, icons, myths and symbolism in texts, for example poetry, short films, graphic novels, and plays on similar themes (ACELT1637)

Year 10 English

  • Analyse and explain how text structures, language features and visual features of texts and the context in which texts are experienced may influence audience response (ACELT1641)
  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Identify, explain and discuss how narrative viewpoint, structure, characterisation and devices including analogy and satire shape different interpretations and responses to a text (ACELT1642)
  • Create imaginative texts that make relevant thematic and intertextual connections with other texts (ACELT1644)
Media Arts

Years 7 & 8 Media Arts

  • Analyse how technical and symbolic elements are used in media artworks to create representations influenced by story, genre, values and points of view of particular audiences (ACAMAR071)

Years 9 & 10 Media Arts

  • Evaluate how technical and symbolic elements are manipulated in media artworks to create and challenge representations framed by media conventions, social beliefs and values for a range of audiences (ACAMAR078)

Years 7 & 8 Music

  • Develop musical ideas, such as mood, by improvising, combining and manipulating the elements of music (ACAMUM093)

Years 9 & 10 Music

  • Improvise and arrange music, using aural recognition of texture, dynamics and expression to manipulate the elements of music to explore personal style in composition and performance (ACAMUM099)

Years 7 & 8 Drama

  • Combine the elements of drama in devised and scripted drama to explore and develop issues, ideas and themes (ACADRM040)

Years 9 & 10 Drama

  • Improvise with the elements of drama and narrative structure to develop ideas, and explore subtext to shape devised and scripted drama (ACADRM047)

Years 7 & 8 Dance

  • Combine elements of dance and improvise by making literal movements into abstract movements (ACADAM013)

Years 9 & 10 Dance

  • Manipulate combinations of the elements of dance and choreographic devices to communicate their choreographic intent (ACADAM021)
Visual Arts

Years 7 & 8 Visual Arts

  • Experiment with visual arts conventions and techniques, including exploration of techniques used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent a theme, concept or idea in their artwork (ACAVAM118)

Years 9 & 10 Visual Arts

  • Conceptualise and develop representations of themes, concepts or subject matter to experiment with their developing personal style, reflecting on the styles of artists, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists (ACAVAM125)
  • Plan and design artworks that represent artistic intention (ACAVAM128)


Resources Required

  • Device with internet and presenting capability
  • Medium-sized open space
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Background Information

AIME created IMAGI-NATION{TV} & the IMAGI-NATION{CLASSROOM} experience to put a mentor in the home every day during the tough times of COVID-19 and beyond. It’s a daily TV show broadcast live on the internet, and it’s a gift for teachers, parents and kids to help make sense of today and imagine tomorrow.

The pursuit is to elevate knowledge; every guest we bring on knows something and has wisdom to share. This show is not just about entertainment to pass the time. We want to remake the mould for the modern hero – from beauty to brains, from selfies to self-knowledge, from hashtags to hope. IMAGI-NATION{TV} is seeking to unlock the best in every single one of us; to inspire a generation of heroes in the form of mentors who fight for a fairer world.

[email protected] from Cool Australia

[email protected] resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand-alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our [email protected] series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real-world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in remote or school settings.

AIME logo This lesson has been developed in partnership with AIME. AIME is an Imagination Factory that since 2005, has been creating pop-up Imagination Factories on university campuses around the world to unlock the internal narrative of marginalised kids, taking them from a world that tells them they can’t to a world that tells them they can. Kids who experience the Imagination Factory have gone on to achieve educational parity, rise up as entrepreneurs, and take on a whole new mindset that prepares them for success.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … examine the idiom ‘cogs in the machine’
  • … understand systems of control and inequity
  • … reclaim the machine through art.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … embody machinery
  • … identify systems of control
  • … identify and apply values
  • … critically reflect on mechanisms of power in their lives
  • … create art in response to a stimulus concept.

Teacher content information:


AIME was founded in 2005 to bring mentors into the lives of kids left behind. Since then they’ve grown to become global experts in mentoring - being awarded one of the top 50 education groups in the world in 2019.

AIME created IMAGI-NATION{TV} & the IMAGI-NATION{CLASSROOM} experience to bring mentors into schools and homes every day during the tough times of COVID-19 and beyond. IMAGI-NATION{TV} is a daily TV show broadcast on the Internet and co-hosted by school kids around the world. It brings high-quality ment

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Student Worksheet

Cogs in the Machine - Activity Instructions

“If we have a purpose in life beyond being a cog in the human machine, mine is to help inspire people and that's pretty cool. I would like to motivate the world.” ~ Steve Gleason

Learning intentions:

  • You will examine the idiom ‘cogs in the machine’
  • You will understand systems of control and inequity
  • You will reclaim the machine through art.

Success criteria:

  • You can embody machinery
  • You can identify systems of control
  • You can identify and apply values
  • You can critically reflect on mechanisms of power in their lives
  • You can create art in response to a stimulus concept.

Magic Machines

1. Watch the following video and complete the table below:

Wintergatan - Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles) (

What I SEE in the video What I THINK about it What I’m left WONDERing

Machines Of Control

2. Watch this music video and read the lyrics

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