Day 177 (of 188) the joy of failures aka the fun of rube goldberg machines
Today was ‘go time’. We have been exploring simple tools and ways that energy can be transferred (as much as I’d like to say “is” transferred, the more I peer into the world of physics and the realm of energy, the less certain I am of things that I once felt were constants). But the class had been working on planning and building complex machines to do simple tasks aka Rube Goldberg machines.
One objective was to explore: “Machines are devices that transfer force and energy”. There are many ways for this to be accomplished, but one of the questions that came out of this was how many times can energy be transferred and still complete a task. This is something that Rube Goldberg machines can help show very well.
There’s also a bonus objective: how to deal with failure. There is the design phase of frustrations that include working out how to control the direction of marbles, how pulley or lever systems can work and how to have one simple machine impact another. But there is also the construction phase of frustration – knocking over an elaborate setup of ‘dominos’ and having to restart. again and again. and sometimes again. How do you deal with the frustration of knowing that something should work but doesn’t and how do you deal with a simple mis-step causing a complete rebuild of a section of a machine.
Today was about much more than putting together a successful machine. It was about designing a complex machine and making it work (or at least almost work) and more importantly, pushing yourself towards frustration and identifying strategy (and ideally strategIES) that help enable self-regulation.
A fun time with tremendous focus and student engagement working on tasks and keeping calm (definitely not as easy as it sounds!). What I loved even more during this exploration was students showing RG machines they built at home as they practiced and prepared for their ‘live demonstrations’ – and looking forward to seeing what they build next!