The third graders enjoyed learning about famous cartoonist Rube Goldberg. He is well-known for the elaborate crazy contraptions he drew of complicated chain reactions that performed a simple task. The class learned that Rube wanted to be a cartoonist, but instead went to UC Berkeley and became an engineer to please his father. Eventually, he did follow his passion and pursued a career as a cartoonist. His engineering background came in handy though, because it helped him to create designs in his cartoons that could actually work, even if he only drew them to make people laugh.
The class’s excitement to read books about Rube Goldberg tied in nicely with a weekly theme in their reading program: Inventors, explored through the genre of biography. The class was able to relate the reading strategy of finding “cause and effect” in their stories with learning about the chain reactions in Rube Goldberg’s contraptions, since a chain reaction is really just a cause and effect.
The third grade students were then inspired to use the engineering design process to create their own Rube Goldberg machines. Each student came up with their own design for a contraption with at least 4 chain reactions to complete a simple task. They used great perseverance to keep trying and redesigning their machines until they worked. Here are some videos of their machines in action!