Monday, September 25, 2017

Building a Rube Goldberg Machine

First, the pictures!

These are photos from our classroom last week plus today (when we finally finished the Rube Goldberg machine):

making numbers with the Golden Bead Material

making the same numbers with the Stamp Game and seeing the relationship between the two ways of representing them

the Stamp Game is the next step in abstraction because the tiles are not actually 10x larger than the previous (which they are in the Golden Beads)... they are the same size but are worth more

and the green, red, blue color coding is extra help for children while they are still working on internalizing place value

time for the Balloon-Powered Car races!

different Balloon-Powered Car designs fared differently... 

we graphed the results (the older children then had a Graph Story Book Project for homework that week to help them practice coming up with stories which matched different line graphs)

another long-awaited project... the Archimedes' Screw (after reading the biography of Archimedes, we couldn't wait to build one) 

this version uses our oh-so-handy 10 ft length of 2 inch diameter PVC pipe plus 12 ft of clear plastic tubing and some clear packing tape)

an example of a daily plan book

and our color coding for the subjects

writing in the main lesson book after drafting some text and receiving an edit

measuring milk for homemade Cinnamon Waffles!

we were ALL excited to try them!  they were so good!

Word Study:  using the dictionary to help with advanced Categorization work (Birds, Fish, Reptiles) and looking up unfamiliar animal names

writing the name of the next work in the plan book... we write it in and color code it before we begin the next thing

Word Study:  a lesson on Guide Words

weaving on the tapestry loom (this work is color-coded as two things, as purple for Practical Life and red for Art)

Capture It!:  a new educational game to practice Order of Operations

dynamic addition (with carrying) and subtraction (with borrowing) with the Stamp Game is easy!

I color-code the digits when I write their problems on the Stamp Game paper... the next step in abstraction after this is to write all of the digits with a regular graphite pencil, after they have internalized the value of each place

checking the angle of the pipe (this pipe has been so handy in our Physics block!  here, it has been incorporated into our Rube Goldberg machine)

setting up the cable car and the wooden box which holds it in place at the top of the cable (until the box is knocked out of the way)

we are so excited to try our design!

the cable car slides to a gentle stop on the kitchen floor... our ultimate plan is that it will deliver a carrot to Mystery, the rabbit

the car which pushes the wooden box out of the way

dropping a wooden ball down the pipe to begin the chain of events

a trip to the public library to paint Kindness Rocks for our Philosophy topic:  Compassion

tweaking the design a little more... carrying a huge pile of dictionaries and encyclopedias and cookbooks upstairs to get more height under the new section of the machine

carefully setting up the marble maze ramps

using the colorful wooden dominoes to make a channel so the ball will enter the pipe and not fall off the sofa cushion

decorating the finished Physics MLBs with our beautiful stick beeswax crayons

adding pictures of our Rube Goldberg machine's final design

our full list of supplies!

the dinosaur graces the front cover of this Simple Machines MLB 

(why you ask?  because the T. Rex is an example of momentum)

Also, I wanted to put a few notes at the end of this post about the things we did which are not pictured above.

This includes Skill Cards (Ignoring Distractions, Making Corrections, Setting a Goal), a recent newspaper article about how clay full-size models are still used in car design, Bridge to Terabithia lit circle (spelling quiz, plot triangle graphic organizer, a group table read of chapter 9 with each student reading a different character's dialogue while I read the narration), introducing Word Study record sheets (there are 240 total boxes of Word Study work), fun creative writing prompts (including "Design a menu for a restaurant you would never eat at... be sure to include all your least-favorite foods!"), reading a biography of Anna Botsford Comstock and my unveiling of a brand-new copy of her Handbook of Nature Study, my handing out of new bird logs especially designed for kids and reading Feathers for Lunch to help inspire bird watching at our window bird feeder, and reading The Giant Ball of String both for fun and to help inspire our Rube Goldberg design!

Here's the upshot of our final design. First, we learned that it works best to start with how you want your design to end, and then work backwards. Brainstorming the whole thing and gathering supplies for the whole thing was super-overwhelming and didn't end up being that useful in the long run. It is best to go one step at a time. To work the machine, you roll a rainbow colored wooden ball down the marble maze ramp (this is set up on top of my loveseat, which is standing up on its end to give us enough height). At the end of the ramp the rainbow ball collides with a red wooden ball which was sitting there and they both roll down the PVC pipe, gaining speed. (The pipe is at an angle and runs from the top of my loveseat to the dining room table.) When the balls roll out of the pipe they collide with a small wooden car which zooms across the dining room table and goes off the edge, landing on a sofa cushion. In the process of falling off the end of the table, it knocks a wooden box out of the way. This wooden box has been barricading the cable car from heading down its cable but with the box now down on the floor, the cable car can head down its path, from the dining room chair to the base of the stepstool in the kitchen. It glides down the cable and gently comes to a rest on the kitchen floor, delivering a carrot to the rabbit. Yum!

The two recipes from last week (finishing up our Virtue of the Week: Cleanliness) were delicious! They were apple and almond butter "Power Towers" from The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids and the "Cinnamon Waffles" from Honest Pretzels (and this entailed a lesson on separating eggs, beating the egg whites, and folding them back into the batter gently).

Our Philosophy books last week for Compassion included The Three Questions and The Brave Little Parrot. Other Montessori lessons which were given also included my new Flags of the World work, Word Study (alphabetical order), and the nomenclature for Landforms & Water Features. Becca started a new chapter book which she loves, which is called Finish This Book and which requires the child to write in it and to solve puzzles. Last, but not least, the kids got to enjoy Track & Field and Swimming at the Farm!

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

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