Many students are familiar with the idea of a Rube Goldberg Machine and simply don't know it. To peak students' interests, show them a video of a Rube Goldberg Machine, and then ask them to do a Think-Pair-Share activity, describing what happened in the video as scientifically as possible. Give students five minutes to complete the activity with their partner and then ask students for their responses as a whole group.
Students should have concluded that they viewed a chain reaction, ultimately completing a simple task. If they did not come to this conclusion, help explain this to them.
DURING (EXPLORE & EXPLAIN)
Have students to view the video one more time, this time recalling what they already know about energy transformations to complete a simple task. Tell them to record Jot Notes during the video, describing as many transformations as possible. Once you have viewed the video for a second time as a class, again ask students for their answers and record them as a class, being as thorough and specific as possible.
Then have students view videos of Rube Goldberg Machines on the Internet to spark their interest. Specifically, they should view the following:
Then have students plan their project in their small group. They may need to view additional videos of Rube Goldberg Machines to get additional ideas. YouTube is a great resource for this. Remind students to follow standard lab safety procedures, using good sense while planning and constructing their project.
Have students complete the Rube Goldberg Project Design worksheet so that they can plan out the steps to their machine prior to beginning to build it. They should also determine at this time what type of energy is used by each part of the machine. This will help them to identify what energy transformations are present in the machine.
Students can read the article outlining the steps to build a Rube Goldberg Machine if they need additional details and help getting started.
Once students complete their Rube Goldberg Project Worksheet they should begin building their project.
Depending on the length of the class periods in your school, you may allow students one or several days to complete the building of their project. Once a group has completed their project, however, the members should use the Self-Evaluation Rubric at the bottom of the Rube Goldberg Project Worksheet to ensure that their project has all the required components.
AFTER (ELABORATE & EVALUATE)
Your students should use the Peer Evaluation Rubric to evaluate each others' projects as well. This will provide them with additional opportunities to practice observing and identifying energy transformations.
Once you and your students have used the rubrics to evaluate the projects, have each individual student complete an exit ticket to evaluate their knowledge of transformation of energy and the law of conservation of energy. Score students' exit tickets. Each question is worth 20% (there are five questions). If they score lower than 80% on the exit ticket you should plan to remediate them.