Open to all Middle and High School Classes
Division I – 6th – 8th grade
Division II – 9th – 12th grade
Due: February 15, 2013
Table of Contents
- The Challenge
- Range of Activities
- Essential Questions
- Student Outcomes
- Evaluation Rubric
- Curricular Goals
Pouring a cup of water, popping a balloon, or inserting a key: it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, right? Well, not in this challenge. Following in the tradition of the famous Rube Goldberg, your team is tasked with designing and creating a contraption that would turn a simple, everyday act into a convoluted series of operations.
Here’s what your team needs to do:
- Become familiar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine.
- Design and create a Rube Goldberg machine of your own invention. (Keep in mind that Rube Goldberg machines, in the end, actually do something. So be sure that your machine ends with the completion of a small task.)
- There are a few conditions to the Challenge:
- You must create a diagram of your plan that includes labels that explain the energy transitions in the project.
- It must involve the use of water.
- Your machine must use more than 4 energy transitions.
- High school: Include at least two instances of chemical and/or electric energy.
- The documentary must include: 1) the paper design phase, 2) a brief introduction of the man, Rube Goldberg; 3) the construction, 4) the trial runs, and, 5) a successful run OR, a debrief on why the machine didn’t work.
- The documentary (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- A final labeled machine diagram
- Concept and historical research
- Creative and scientific brainstorming
- Contraption creation – Design, Construction, Testing
- Documentary video – Pre-production, Production, and Post-production
- Image collection, Scripting, Narration, Editing, Audio Tracks
We recommend that this Meridian Stories Challenge take place inside of a three to four week time frame. The students must work in teams of 3-4. All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher. Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.
During Phase One, student teams will:
- Research Rube Goldberg and his machines
- Choose activity for your Rube Goldberg machine to perform
- Research types of energy (mechanical, chemical, electrical) that you may want to use in your machine.
- Brainstorm about the format for the documentary
- Decide on what footage needs to be shot live and what stills or images – if any – need to be researched for use in the documentary.
- Decide if the final documentary would benefit from any live interviews and if so, with whom?
- Create a detailed plan to design, build and test your machine so that you can correlate the shooting of that plan with your documentary
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Tips|
|On Documentary Films – Sarah Childress
On Film Producing – Tom Pierce
On Non-fiction – Margaret Heffernan
On Making Documentaries – Margaret Heffernan
|“Conducting An Interview”|
During Phase Two, student teams will:
- Design your machine on paper, for review by the teacher
- Acquire materials
- Build machine
- Test machine
- During all of the above, shoot as scheduled according to your documentary plan.
During Phase Three, student teams will:
- Alter the machine to perform as desired (film a successful run…hopefully!)
- Post-produce documentary, including writing and recording a voice over script
- How do you predict an object’s motion (whether continued motion, changes in motion, or stability)?
- What underlying forces explain the variety of interactions observed?
- How is energy transferred?
- How are forces and energy related?
- How has physical construction and testing of a contraption deepened your understanding of the underlying concepts of physics?
- How has immersion in the production of a documentary deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team changed the learning experience?
- The student will have a greater understanding of how the forces between objects describe how their motions change or remain the same. The student will have a practical understanding of Newton’s first law, and realize that an object’s motion is the result of the net sum of all the forces acting upon it. For two interacting objects, the student will understand the practical application of Newton’s third law. High school students will also understand the applications of Newton’s second law to macroscopic objects.
- The student will have a greater understanding of some of the major types of interaction and their physical manifestations: gravity, electromagnetism, and strong and weak nuclear interactions.
- The student will have a more complete awareness of the forms and applications of energy, which can be manifested in various ways (such as motion, sound, light, thermal energy, etc) and transferred in various processes, whether mechanical, chemical, or electrical.
- The student will understand that forces between objects – force fields – contain energy and can transmit energy across space, and that changing forces between interacting objects also changes the energy in the force field between the objects.
- The student will be able to practice and experiment with the relevant academic concepts.
- The student will know the basic constructs of using video media to effectively communicate information and a story, and will know some of the basic constructs of the documentary video genre.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration.
|CONTENT COMMAND – Clear understanding and application of the physical concepts employed in the construction of a Rube Goldberg Machine|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Communication of Content – Design and Construction
|The paper design and construction of the contraption are illogical or difficult to understand||The paper design is logical, but the construction of the contraption is not implemented well
|The paper design is logical and the construction of the contraption is well-implemented
|Forces/Energy||The project demonstrates little understanding of the physical concepts of force and energy
|The project reveals sufficient understanding of the physical concepts of force and energy
|The project reveals a thorough understanding of the physical concepts of force and energy
|Conditions of the Challenge – Transitions and Energy||The conditions of the challenge involving transitions, energy, and water are not met
|The conditions of the challenge involving transitions, energy, and water are met, but they are neither clearly presented nor incorporated creatively||The conditions of the challenge involving transitions, energy, and water are fulfilled in a creative manner|
|STORYTELLING COMMAND – Clear, complete documentation of the creation process and engaging narration|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Documentation –Planning, Construction, Trials||The documentation of the creation of the Rube Goldberg machine is difficult to follow and incomplete||The documentation of the creation of the Rube Goldberg machine is comprehensive, but sometimes difficult to follow||The documentation of the creation of the Rube Goldberg machine is presented clearly and thoroughly.|
|Scripting & Narration||The scripting and voice over is ineffective and not engaging||The scripting and voice over is inconsistently engaging||The scripting and voice over is compelling and effective|
|MEDIA COMMAND – Effective use of the media to communicate narrative|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Visual Shot Selection||The visual shots do not effectively communicate the content||The visual shots inconsistently communicate the content
|The visual shots effectively and engagingly communicate the content
|Editing||The documentary feels patched together and the overall editing detracts from the narrative||The documentary flows, but there are occasional editing distractions||The documentary is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in an engaging video experience|
|Music||The choice of music distracts from the content of the documentary||The choice of music works inconsistently with the content of the documentary||The choice of music enhances the tone and complements the content and story|
|21ST CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (for teachers only) – Effective use of collaborative thinking, creativity and innovation, and initiative and self-direction to create and produce the final project.|
|Collaborative Thinking||The group did not work together effectively and/or did not share the work equally||The group worked together effectively and had no major issues||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group did not make a solid effort to create anything new or innovative||The group was able to brainstorm new and inventive ideas, but was inconsistent in their realistic evaluation and implementation of those ideas||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group was unable to set attainable goals, work independently and manage their time effectively||The group required some additional help, but was able to complete the project on time with few problems||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
The Rube Goldberg Contraption – Documentary Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that are articulated in the working document entitled ‘A Framework for K – 12 Science Education’. Published by the National Academy of Sciences, this document will form the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards, in which Maine is a ‘lead state’. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education – Dimensions of the Framework
|Subject||Grade 8 Expectations||Grade 12 Expectations|
Motion and Stability: Forces and interactions
Forces and Motion
|For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first but in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law). The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. Forces on an object can also change its shape or orientation. All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared.||Newton’s second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects, but it requires revision for subatomic scales or for speeds close to the speed of light. (Boundary: No details of quantum physics or relativity are included at this grade level.)
Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference; it is the mass times the velocity of the object. In any system, total momentum is always conserved. If a system interacts with objects outside itself, the total momentum of the system can change; however, any such change is balanced by changes in the momentum of objects outside the system.
Motion and Stability: Forces and interactions
Types of Interactions
|Electric and magnetic (electro- magnetic) forces can be attractive or repulsive, and their sizes depend on the magnitudes of the charges, currents, or magnetic strengths involved and on the distances between the interacting objects. Gravitational forces are always attractive. There is a gravitational force between any two masses, but it is very small except when one or both of the objects have large mass—for example, Earth and the sun. Long-range gravitational interactions govern the evolution and maintenance of large-scale systems in space, such as galaxies or the solar system, and determine the patterns of motion within those structures.
Forces that act at a distance (gravitational, electric, and magnetic) can be explained by force fields that extend through space and can be mapped by their effect on a test object (a ball, a charged object, or a magnet, respectively).
|Newton’s law of universal gravitation and Coulomb’s law provide the mathematical models to describe and predict the effects of gravitation- al and electrostatic forces between distant objects.
Forces at a distance are explained by fields permeating space that can transfer energy through space. Magnets or changing electric fields cause magnetic fields; electric charges or changing magnetic fields cause electric fields. Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties, and transformations of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects. The strong and weak nuclear interactions are important inside atomic nuclei—for example, they determine the patterns of which nuclear isotopes are stable and what kind of decays occur for unstable ones.
Definitions of Energy
|Motion energy is properly called kinetic energy; it is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed. A system of objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. For example, energy is stored—in gravitational interaction with Earth—when an object is raised, and energy is released when the object falls or is lowered. Energy is also stored in the electric fields between charged particles and the magnetic fields between magnets, and it changes when these objects are moved relative to one another. Stored energy is decreased in some chemical reactions and increased in others.
The term “heat” as used in everyday language refers both to thermal energy (the motion of atoms or molecules within a substance) and energy transfers by convection, conduction, and radiation (particularly infrared and light). In science, heat is used only for this second meaning; it refers to energy transferred when two objects or systems are at different temperatures. Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of particles of matter. The relationship between the temperature and the total energy of a system depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter present.
|Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system’s total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy. “Mechanical energy” generally refers to some combination of motion and stored energy in an operating machine. “Chemical energy” generally is used to mean the energy that can be released or stored in chemical processes, and “electrical energy” may mean energy stored in a battery or energy transmitted by electric currents. Historically, different units and names were used for the energy present in these different phenomena, and it took some time before the relation- ships between them were recognized. These relationships are better understood at the microscopic scale, at which all of the different manifestations of energy can be modeled as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields (which mediate interactions between particles). This last concept includes radiation, a phenomenon in which energy stored in fields moves across space.|
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
|When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time. For example, the friction that causes a moving object to stop also results in an increase in the thermal energy in both surfaces; eventually heat energy is transferred to the surrounding environment as the surfaces cool. Similarly, to make an object start moving or to keep it moving when friction forces transfer energy away from it, energy must be provided from, say, chemical (e.g., burning fuel) or electrical (e.g., an electric motor and a battery) processes.
The amount of energy transfer needed to change the temperature of a matter sample by a given amount depends on the nature of the matter, the size of the sample, and the environment. Energy is transferred out of hotter regions or objects and into colder ones by the processes of conduction, convection, and radiation.
|Conservation of energy means that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems.
Mathematical expressions, which quantify how the stored energy in a sys- tem depends on its configuration (e.g., relative positions of charged particles, compression of a spring) and how kinetic energy depends on mass and speed, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe system behavior. The availability of energy limits what can occur in any system.
Uncontrolled systems always evolve toward more stable states—that is, toward more uniform energy distribution (e.g., water flows downhill, objects hot- ter than their surrounding environment cool down). Any object or system that can degrade with no added energy is unstable. Eventually it will do so, but if the energy releases throughout the transition are small, the process duration can be very long (e.g., long-lived radioactive isotopes).
Relationship between Energy and Forces
|When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. For example, when energy is transferred to an Earth-object system as an object is raised, the gravitational field energy of the system increases. This energy is released as the object falls; the mechanism of this release is the gravitational force. Likewise, two magnetic and electrically charged objects interacting at a distance exert forces on each other that can transfer energy between the interacting objects.||Force fields (gravitational, electric, and magnetic) contain energy and can transmit energy across space from one object to another.
When two objects interacting through a force field change relative position, the energy stored in the force field is changed. Each force between the two inter- acting objects acts in the direction such that motion in that direction would reduce the energy in the force field between the objects. However, prior motion and other forces also affect the actual direction of motion.
ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY, AND APPLICATIONS IN SCIENCE
Developing Possible Solutions
|A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it. There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors. In any case, it is important to be able to communicate and explain solutions to others.
Models of all kinds are important for testing solutions, and computers are a valuable tool for simulating systems. Simulations are useful for predicting what would happen if various parameters of the model were changed, as well as for making improvements to the model based on peer and leader (e.g., teacher) feedback.
|Complicated problems may need to be broken down into simpler components in order to develop and test solutions. When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts. Testing should lead to improvements in the design through an iterative procedure.
Both physical models and computers can be used in various ways to aid in the engineering design process. Physical models, or prototypes, are helpful in testing product ideas or the properties of different materials. Computers are useful for a variety of purposes, such as in representing a design in 3-D through CAD software; in troubleshooting to identify and describe a design problem; in running simulations to test different ways of solving a problem or to see which one is most efficient or economical; and in making a persuasive presentation to a client about how a given design will meet his or her needs.
ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY, AND APPLICATIONS IN SCIENCE
Optimizing the Design Solution
|There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. Comparing different designs could involve running them through the same kinds of tests and systematically recording the results to determine which design performs best. Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process—that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design. This iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution. Once such a suitable solution is determined, it is important to describe that solution, explain how it was developed, and describe the features that make it successful.||The aim of engineering is not simply to find a solution to a problem but to design the best solution under the given constraints and criteria. Optimization can be complex, however, for a design problem with numerous desired qualities or outcomes. Criteria may need to be broken down into simpler ones that can be approached systematically, and decisions about the priority of certain criteria over others (trade-offs) may be needed. The comparison of multiple designs can be aided by a trade-off matrix. Sometimes a numerical weighting system can help evaluate a design against multiple criteria. When evaluating solutions, all relevant considerations, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts, should be included. Testing should lead to design improvements through an iterative process, and computer simulations are one useful way of running such tests.|