This Week At STEAM: Week 7 – Rube Goldberg

This week was a surprise week for the students.  Rube Goldberg Week!
Like all other weeks, the students started the day by completing an instant challenge.  This instant challenge was a little different than the others.  First, the students were put into groups before they found out what the challenge was.  There was no individual planning time, they had to collaborate from the get go.  Second, the parameters of the challenge were kept to a minimum to inspire the students to use their creativity and critical thinking.  This time, the students had to create a Pom Pom launcher.  The launcher had to use each material in some way.  It could also not be thrown or blown, meaning the students had to devise some sort of launching mechanism.  The students came up with a wide variety of launchers, and some were even resourceful and checked Google for ideas!
After the Instant Challenge, we reviewed a post on Seesaw pertaining to Simple Machines.  The students were queried about their knowledge of levers, wheel and axels, wedges, screws, incline planes, and pulleys.  We continued by watching three videos.  The first was a video by the group OK GO called This Too Shall Pass.  In the video, the group had constructed a huge Rube Goldberg Machine.  A Rube Goldberg machine is a complex chain reaction machine that solves a simple task, like turning a light switch on.  The students commented on the complexity of the machine.  The second video was by Field Day with Bob Partington called Rube Slowberg.  This video showed the students another complex machine.  A third video was called Audri’s Monster Trap.  This video showed a student, maybe 7 or 8 years old, making a Rube Goldberg machine.  The takeaway from all the videos was showing how each of the machine creators had to have grit and resilience to stick with it and get the job done, even if it didn’t work the first (or 40th) time.
The students then got back into groups and created their own Rube Goldberg machines.  They were given the option of creating their own simple task or using the Pom Pom launcher as their simple task.  They also had to incorporate at least 3 chain reactions and 3 simple machines.  This activity really tested all the student’s Design Thinking and 4 C skills!

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