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Digital Rube Goldberg Lesson

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Keywords: Critical Thinking, Technology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Science
Subject(s): Special Needs, Science, Technology, Social Skills, Physics, Math
Grades P-K through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Duran Junior High School, Pell City, AL
Planned By: Sondra Dile
Original Author: Sondra Dile, Pell City
How many steps does it take to ring the bell on the counter starting with a toy car on the floor?

What supplies would accomplish this goal?

Learning Target: I can create a physically possible way to begin with a toy car on the floor that triggers a series of reactions to eventually ring a bell on top of a counter without touching the system once it begins.

The students will work together to design a system with materials (from a teacher given list) that will allow them to accomplish their goal. The students will discuss the materials they feel would be best suited to get from point A (the starting point on the floor) to point B (the downward force it will take to ring the bell). They will need to use a Chromebook or an iPad to draw out their blueprints (including measurements in SI units). There are some simulation options available including CAD programs. They will need to use arrows showing the direction of the forces at work.

Materials: Small toy car, desk bell, dominoes, wooden block (taller than the bell), meter stick, string, weight, pulley wheel (we use K'Nex), pencil, etc.

Helpful Hints:

Force = mass x acceleration
Work = force x distance
Gravitational acceleration = 9.8 m/s/s
Friction is an opposing force that may cause negative acceleration
Simple Machines trade out distance and force

This activity can be done physically after the simulations are completed. It can be modified in unlimited ways for any age or learning level.
Science, Math, Film, Social Collaboration, Critical Thinking
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Science is used with physics, group collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Historical factors could be used by limiting the materials to certain time periods. Math comes into play with measurements and calculations. Fine Arts could be useful in creative designs to fit the goal. English could ask the students to list each item used as nouns, actions they observe as verbs, and all of the adjectives they would experience in their observation. Music can be created by the motion of the items in progress. Collaboration of the groups will improve social skills and real-life teamwork situations.
This activity could be linked to speed calculations or gravitational forces. The can keep detailed lab reports on all trial and errors. The students could learn filming techniques during and after the activity is complete. Competitions could be set up with other groups, classes, grades, or schools.
Materials: Worksheets, Middle, Ports and Hubs, Bags and Cases, Power, Mobile Labs, Student Resources, Assessment, Integrating Technology, Cause and Effect
Other Items: 2 Charging Stations with Cords, $40.00 each, total of $80.00
10 iPad protective cases, $20.00 each, total of $200.00
10 iPads, $300.00 each, total of $3000.00
100 Various items for the material choices, $1.00 each, total of $100.00
10 Chromebooks, $179.00 each, total of $1790.00
1 Charging Station, $370.00 each, total of $370.00