Thursday, January 15, 2015

Building Simple Rube Goldberg Machine with Children - Chain Reaction Experiment

Rube Goldberg machine? Sound complicated? Yes, we usually like to make things easy or do things in an easy manner, however, Rube Goldberg machine performs a simple task in a complicated way, usually via chain reaction.

So what are my objectives of building Rube Goldberg machine with the children?
  • To understand cause and effect
  • To develop problem solving skill
  • To exercise creativity
  • To build perseverance

Do we need to spend money on the set up? Absolutely not! We just made use of whatever we have at home!

First, we set a task to be performed. This time, we wanted to make the LEGO flowers fly! You must be laughing out loud on this goal, but the children were serious about this.

Since it is our first time building Rube Goldberg machine, we used only three simple concepts.

1. Toilet paper rolls tunnel
Each toilet paper roll sticks to the magnetic door (our storeroom door) using a piece of magnet. The children learn about magnetic attraction while building the tunnel. 

When the children released a LEGO figurine from the top of the tunnel, they realised that they need to align the toilet paper rolls, so that the figurine would not get stuck between the toilet paper rolls. 

They also observed that the figurine, though it was dropped from rest, it "flew" out at a high speed. When the children are older, we can explain to them that gravitational potential energy of the figurine is converted into kinetic energy.

2. CD case dominoes
When the LEGO figurine exited the toilet paper rolls tunnel, the children noticed that it may or may not hit the first CD case, so they had to observe where the figurine exited and then to adjust the position of the first CD.

As they were placing the CD cases, they had to take extra care so that the cases would not fall and hit the others.

3. Plastic spoon lever
In order to make the LEGO flower fly, the children had to consider how to orientate the plastic spoon so that the last CD case would fall on it.

Throughout the whole experiment, the children learnt that they had to build each part step-by-step to make sure that each part of the set-up worked. Patience and Perseverance are the keys to the success, as it took them a lot of trial-and-errors to make the LEGO flower jump.

They were overjoyed when their experiment was finally successful!

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Danessa! Try this activity with your daughter!

  2. This is cool. Might try it with my son :-)

    1. Thanks Agy! Hope your son enjoy this activity!


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