As a part of the March 9 Maker Day at Animas Public School, grade 3-5 students made Rube Goldberg-style contraptions incorporating simple machines.
As was done in other parts of the day, we emphasized the design process with planning, building, and iterating. Students began by working in small groups to design what they planned to build by drawing it.
Working on a design challenge in a group was also a learning experience for these students. Figuring out which person would do which task and how the different parts would fit together were real word tasks which will benefit these students later on.
In the building phase, students were given a set of materials which included a piece of posterboard, Play Doh, tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, dominoes, marbles, a bell, paper cups, cardboard tubes, cardboard, string, pipe cleaners,tape, and glue. With these materials, they were to build a chain reaction style contraption (think Mouse Trap) that incorporated simple machines, such as inclined planes, pulleys, levers, and wheels.
The chain reactions were to start with the drop of a marble with the end goal of ringing a bell. Students could not touch anything in between, and the goal was to have at least five steps in the process.
About midway through the process, students were given the opportunity to present their work and to reflect on what they were most proud of, what their biggest challenge was, and what work they still needed to do. Other students gave input and suggestions.
The final products were put on display for the school’s open house day.