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Complicated Contraptions Teach Problem Solving at Unqua

Fifth-graders in the Magnet program at Unqua   Fifth-graders in the Magnet program at Unqua

Engineer and inventor Rube Goldberg, known for his wacky and complicated machines, inspired fifth-graders at Unqua Elementary School. Students in the Magnet program, led by teacher Lorie Moran, built their own Rube Goldberg contraptions.

Each group had to build a machine that accomplished a task. Justin Amante, Ioanna Livanis and Declan Stanton came up with a design that included a moving car and a ball going down a ramp before ending with a box of Cheerios spilling into a bowl. Other tasks included popping a balloon and watering a plant.

Before building, students had to create step-by-step plans and draw blueprints that identified the transfers of energy. The contraptions had to include different simple machines like levers and pulleys. Children made adjustments during a trial-and-error process. They additionally used green-screen technology to film infomercials for their machines.