8th Grade Scientists Tackle Community Issues with Rube Goldberg Contraptions

Brook Achterhof (Science/Math)
Our 8th grade scientists are putting their problem solving skills to the test as they create Rube Goldberg contraptions that will bring attention to issues in our community. They will work through the design thinking process and apply their understanding of simple machines to create inventive contraptions. This process started with all students thinking about our community and ‘pain points’ that they see. From there they created brainstorm maps to ensure they are contemplating the issues from various perspectives. This essential step in the design thinking process supports students in dissecting an issue to determine the root cause. After assessing the issues they recognized, they thought about how they could use a Rube Goldberg contraption to address one of their concerns. 

The next steps in the design thinking process are, in my opinion, the most exciting - Ideate and Prototype. For these steps students explored how to integrate play in their brainstorm processes. They completed some building challenges that sparked ideas on how to create simple machines from simple materials, and broadened their ideas by playing the improv game, ‘Yes, and…”. With minds open and ready to investigate, they dove into material exploration and thinking how to piece together simple machines in creative ways. There are already some creative crafts happening, including mini-ferris wheels with confetti and skateboards starting dominos. As the project continues, the actual construction will continue to meld with the larger purpose of their Rube Goldberg contraptions. Stay tuned for completed Rube Goldberg projects after February break! 
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.