Brainy Zany ContraptionsAs children we loved a game by Ideal toy company called The Mousetrap Game. Based on Rube Goldberg’s creative ideas of complicated systems for solving a simple problem, the game actually was a captivating engineering exercise that utilized simple machines and creative problem solving. Over 50 years later, the game is still available and still intrigues students as they try to solve the challenges. Simple machines, engineering, and inspiration from Rube Goldberg provide a wonderful combination for STEM problem solving challenges. Critical thinking, perseverance and application of physical science concepts are just some of the skills that can be developed in this game and other STEM contraption activities. Over the years we have also loved the Rube Goldberg inspired contraptions that have been included in movies from Back to the Future ‘s opening scene and its complicated way of feeding the dog, to the Home Alone devices to foil the robbers and the Honey, I Shrunk the Kid’s gadgets and mechanisms. Even Buzz Light Year in Toy Story used a Rube Goldberg sequence to show he could fly. Amusing to watch and filled with suspense, one can’t help being mesmerized while waiting for the next thing to happen and being delighted when it really works. Creating contraptions inspired by Rube Goldberg is all about physical science and simple machines. Although humorous, they actually follow a logical sequence that takes into account force, motion, gravity and inertia. The cartoons he drew, available on-line, are a great way to introduce a simple machines unit. Another mesmerizing opener for a unit is the YouTube video created by Ok Go for their song “This Too Shall Pass”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8cuuP4Jmio Trust us, your students will want to watch it several times to see all the amazing steps that were engineered. (We love watching the engineers in the balcony cheering at the end!)
RESOURCESWe are always looking for literature that will support integration of the STEM concepts we are currently teaching. The following books and calendar captured our attention recently for a literature component of a simple machines and contraption invention unit:
Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea
Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure
Those Darn Squirrels!
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
In addition these websites are good resources for Rube Goldberg ideas.TeachEngineering (lesson and video) Rube Goldberg and Simple Machines Rube Goldberg Educational Site and Contest Rube Goldberg Lessons and Contest Rube Goldberg Biographical Site All About Rube Goldberg Once your students are inspired they will be eager to try creating their own Rube Goldberg-style machines. We have a ready-to-go activity on our Teacher Pay Teachers site that has student handouts and teacher notes. Engineering contraptions is a fantastic way to review simple machines and forces of energy. In our packet, students start with the simple process of pouring water into a cup and figure out ways to add numerous steps to the task.
FREE Rube Goldberg Anniversary Poster (limited amount)
January 13- February 13, 2018
Wendy and CherylNOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The fees provide a source to support our costs of maintaining this website. SaveSave SaveSave