Rube Goldberg 7th Grade Science Project
Last night was "Family Science Night" at school so the students could show off their Rube Goldberg Science Projects -- projects which have been in the works for well over a month. The concept of the Rube Goldberg project is to start one energy motion which in turn transfers energy to other objects and in the final energy transfer the project has to either drop a coin in a bank OR turn the page of a book. Students were to use various means to accomplish this from levels to pulleys to wedges to wheel/axle, etc. And the items used were to be things found around the house. In all, the project needed 5 energy transfers and if it had 8 or more transfers the student received extra credit. Also, each student needed a flow chart and a drawing of the final design. Extra credit came from adding photos and a poster presentation as well as participating at family night.
For 7th grade, we thought this seemed like a very large undertaking for a school project and our sentiments were echoed by other parents. While there was a tad bit of complaining (by students AND parents), the students seemed very excited to show everyone what they had done and there were many parents just as nervous as the kids! And I'm not sure how some of the projects were carted to school as they were HUGE!!!!
Many of the projects clearly had a lot of parental intervention to include toilet floats activated with water, intricate pulley systems, sand activated "hour glass" reactions and more hoses and piping that probably go into building a whole new house! And I'm pretty sure the local Walmarts are sold out of dominoes!!!
Sarah really liked adding the personal touch to hers -- pink paint, hearts and butterflies! We had searched for ball bearings or some type of heavy round ball so the descending bucket would be heavy enough to pull the hamster wheel around, but after trying three different stores without success, adding money to the cup before the marbles dropped in gave it enough weight to work. The hamster wheel pulled up a small toy game from the dollar store which released a marble which hit the first domino to set it the string in motion. The dominoes climbed a stair step toy and hit a golf ball off the edge of the platform. The car below had been "pre-revved up" and held in place with a piece of stick glued to the base. When the golf ball fell off it landed on the back of the car and popped the front end up enough to allow it to pass the stick. In turn, as the car headed down the pathway, a string attached to the car and fed through a paperclip on a guide-wire pulled the page of the book over. Whew!
Earlier in the day, the students had set the projects up in class and demonstrated them for the teacher to earn their grade. Sarah's went off without a hitch and didn't need any kind of "kick-start" which is really good because at home about half the time the project got stuck! But she had worked with it and tinkered with a few areas and she learned the best place to put the car and the optimal spot to launch the golf ball from. The evening showing was just for parents and for the teacher to video some of the projects.
When we entered the gym, Sarah set up her project so she could set it in motion when the teacher came by. Everything was ready so we headed off to see the other projects and so Sarah could introduce us to her friends. BUT, when we returned, someone had decided not only to set Sarah's project in motion, but this person also took the starting "stick" which is what holds the marbles in place before the project starts. So, I dug through my purse and came up with a subway receipt from our trip to NYC, folded it up and she was able to use it to set her project up again. This time, though, she was hurried so when the teacher came by with the video camera her project didn't flow right and had to be kick-started a few times when it go stuck. I'm pretty sure I saw a little bit of smoke come out of her ears!
But when the teacher told her she had earned an "A" for the project, the smoke subsided and she happily carted her pink project out to the car and we headed home.
Now, where to store this thing?!?!?!? OH.... I know! Somebody is getting a really home-made gift for Christmas!!!! Will it be you!?!?!??!