Our Rube Goldberg Project was a bit of a leap of faith and an amazing experience. Letting go of the traditional classroom model did make me uneasy inside, as well as the clutter everywhere during the building process. The beauty of this project was when I took down the boundaries of learning, the creativity and collaboration sored.
This was an end of the chapter assessment project, motivated by Mrs. Potts’s STEM classroom, George Couros’s keynote at a local technology conference and Mr. Bartlett’s summer program course. Talk about sharing the learning from many adults to my students.
Our goal was to demonstrate student learning by building table machines with a force, pull, and/or friction. Each of the table groups created their machine and then connected their creation to the table group before and after them. The classroom machine would start in one corner of the room, go table group to table group and finally would end by turning a light switch on.
The classroom energy was building in their table group planning and testing. Students could bring items from home, but most used whatever they could find and make fit from the classroom. In the beginning the challenge was creating a massive table machine that simply took too much time or they ran out of supplies. As they talked through their creation, most realized the value in building a simple machine and then personalized it.
Connecting table group machines was where magic really happened. Most easily found a way to collaborate with their table group, but each member had to look at the classroom machine from many different angles and perspectives to be successful. There were some tense moments as each group had to compromise for the classroom project. Yes, they did compromise and were able to explore many experiments until it worked.
Throughout the project students showed their understanding of the science standards over and over. Nearly all of the pupils were engaged and participating. A couple unexpected surprises were how even the quiet students had a voice in their table machine and their ability to be flexible, changing their machines as needed for the classroom project. Yes, this was a leap of faith, but so worth it.