I introduced a teacher friend to Rube Goldberg Machines yesterday. So here’s a repost of this edugif for anyone else who hasn’t made one of these contraptions before.


Playing with Simple Machines

This week’s Edugif was made in collaboration with Graphite and Common Sense Media. Graphite is a community of educators that sift through apps, games, websites, and digital curricula to find the best resources for their students. So I was stoked when they asked for an Edugif to introduce their new App Flow feature on the site. An App Flow is an interactive framework tool that enables teachers to seamlessly flow apps, websites, and games throughout lessons. Check out the App Flow I wrote to accompany this GIF for more ways to integrate making and digital tools in your classroom.

Tinkering: Scribbling Machines

I’ve started making edugifs for the Exploratorium! You can now see a series of edugifs on display in The Tinkering Studio, and you’ll be able to tinker with the materials listed to make your own. Currently on display and available for making are Scribbling Machines.

Scribbling Machines are a great example of a low-tech activity that works well on its own, but can be made more complex by using microcontrollers and sensors. At the basic level it’s a motorized contraption that moves in unusual ways and leaves a mark to trace its path. It’s made from simple materials and demonstrates the erratic motion created by an offset motor. You can get started by scavenging for a motor in old toys or electronics. Once you’ve gathered your materials, and built your first machine, try tweaking your variables. You can add weight to offset your motor, reposition your markers, switch out your structure – the possibilities are endless!

More on Scribbling Machines here.


GIF Tip: Build a Potential Energy Vehicle 

Create a vehicle that stores potential energy, then converts it to kinetic energy. A fundamental law of Physics is that energy is never created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another.

For more GIF Tips, check out Megan Leppla’s blog.

Photographic Drawing

Drawing with detail just requires taking a closer look. It helps to use a photograph for reference, and with enough practice you may be able to do it from memory. Using a gridded system keeps proportions precise, and allows the drawing to be bigger (or smaller) than the photo reference. Artist Chuck Close has been working from gridded photographs like this for decades. He builds his images by applying one brushstroke after another, paying close attention to every detail within the grid.

Color Mixing

Mixing colors unlocks the potential on your palette. Red, yellow and blue can combine to create orange, green and purple – transforming primary colors into secondary colors. But don’t stop there! Secondary colors can combine with other secondaries, or even primaries, to create tertiary colors. Make sure to record your new colors on a piece of paper for a helpful reminder of all the options in your paintbox.