7th Grade Science Rube Goldberg Project
My 7th grade General Science class recently built this Rube Goldberg machine as a part of our study of simple machines (levers, wheel and axles, pulleys, screws, incline planes, and wedges). I think they did a great job. After learning who Rube Goldberg was and what a Rube Goldberg machine is I divided the class into four groups of four. Each group was to design and build a part of the machine and then connect it with the group preceding and following their group. The only parameters I gave them was that it had to crack and egg onto a hot skillet in the most complicated way possible, and it had to incorporate at least three simple machines. First each group made a drawing of their part. After I approved the design they had to build it all themselves. Since it is primarily made of duct tape and cardboard, and since many of the critical parts are propped in place with pencils, CD jewel cases and the like, it is not exactly a machine engineered to precise tolerances. Thus, there was a significant margin of error. It required many “takes”, but alas they DID get it to work. This video though is a compilation of two or three runs so that I could present different camera angles, but again, the 7th graders did get it to run all the way through with no human intervention. And they had many “epic failures.”
This was a great lab because it taught so many different lessons about science (and life). There was trial and error but they could not only depend on that as the ancient Egyptians and the alchemists did. They had to apply the scientific method. Experiments do not always turn out the way you expect. Sometimes stuff blows up and leaves the whole school smelling like vinegar and everybody gets mad at you. 7th grade girls should go by the general rule of thumb that if a 7th grade boy gives you advice you should at best treat it with skepticism, and strongly consider doing the opposite. Advice like, “Hey Margaret, shake up that bottle and see what happens” might leave you and the whole school smelling like vinegar and everybody being mad at you.