STEAM Club Update - Simple Machines

As things got busier with the schedule leading up to the festival I am embarrassed to admit I really slacked off about taking pictures, especially at STEAM Club.  So, I can talk a bit about what we were doing and our experiences during this time but without the aid of delightful images.  Kids broke into teams to work on their Rube Goldberg components with just a few deciding to work on their own.  At the beginning of the club each week we would watch a video or two of some amazing Rube Goldberg mechanisms people have made in the world.  Everyone has their favorite but I love the Japanese ones which are part of a television program that has been airing for more than 10 years.  It is called Pitagora Suichi which translates to Pythagora Switch.  They have delightfully ingenious mechanisms all performed to their theme music.  It can really get lodged in your brain.  I highly recommend checking them out. You can find a variety of examples of their work on-line, here is a link to one to start out on: Pitagora Suichi 

I asked Alex and Colin, our stalwart math education graduate students (who both handily have undergraduate degrees in engineering) to introduce to the idea of a different simple machine each week for the next few weeks.  This was in the hope of offering some structural guidance to the explorations taking place in the groups.  Everyone was having a delightful time sending things down various ramps and what not but most were failing to tackle the challenge of how to make the ball rise on the vertical plane through their contraption - remember it has to start at 2" above ground and leave at 6" above ground.

The first simple machine was the inclined plane and various ways it could be used and we set out to find ways to make our golf ball go up an inclined plane instead of down.