Rube Goldberg Devices Promote Cooperative Learning

MakerKids, the kid-focused makerspace in Toronto, traveled all the way to the Bay Area Maker Faire with a bunch of odds and ends — balls, paper tubes, toy cars, and a bike-pump powered, home-made paintball shooter. They set up four tables around the paintball device, and teams of kids set up elaborate contraptions to drop a ball on a trigger mat, gradually coloring a poster of the MakerKids logo.

It’s called “MakerKids Rube Goldberg Device,” but the point of the exhibit is more about getting kids to work together toward a goal.

It’s a simple experiment that could be replicated anywhere; set up some ramps and some barriers to direct a rolling item, pick an interesting lever or impact to set that item rolling, and point it downhill at some goal — homemade paintball, or compressed air rockets.

Bonnie, Daniel, and Erica, from MakerKids
Bonnie, Daniel, and Erica, from MakerKids

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Nathan Hurst is an editor at Make. He loves anything having to do with science or bicycling. He tweets as @nathanbhurst.

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