Day 4 Individual Challenge

Day 4 was an individual challenge day.

In today’s class, there was an individual challenge between the students. Each one of them received 20 index cards and had to fold it and tape it with the purpose to see who could build a structure that could support the biggest amount of weight. Although with similar ideas, each student had a unique structure.

After building the supports, the class headed to the gym, intending to use the dumbbells and weight machines to test until failure point. There were some impressive results, like Pedro Marcello and Jenny’s structures, which could exceed 500 pounds of compression and still did not fail. Most of the structures could support at least 180 pounds, but there a few failures under the 150-200 range, but at least these structures looked pretty before they failed.

Several designs were tested and it was recognized that those that succeeded were arranged in tight formations and groups, which helped on the distribution of weight.

By Pedro
Day 4 Constructions 3

Day 4 constructionsDay 4 constructions 2


Day 3 Watering a Plant

The course began with a lesson about the distinct types of energy that were used in our previous systems, as well as how energy was transferred from one stage to the next. Then, following our lesson, we started architecting a new system to complete the task of watering a plant. Today’s goal was to build a system with at least 12 stages.

We took advantage of today’s lesson and applied the concept of F=ma. To increase the force that an object transfers to the following stage, we modified the inclination of a ramp, making it steeper. Therefore, the marble’s speed and its acceleration would increase, causing a greater force to be transferred.

We managed to create a system with the 12 stages necessary. After various trials our whole system finally functioned, dropping water in a vase with an imaginary plant.

By Maria and Gaby

Day 2 Erasing a white board

The day started with a discussion of student observations from day 1.  There were many useful observation, but one of the most important ones was that if they start their steps high, then they can work down and take advantage of gravity.

The lesson for the day was on Sir Isaac Newton and his three Laws of Motions.  Students learned that force is measured in newtons and what a newton is.  They also practiced with the formula F=ma.

Isaac Newton Notes


Their task for the day was to erase a white board in at least 10 steps.  Both groups cleverly used skills they gained from their day 1 task.



Day 1 Popping a balloon

On day 1 the students were introduced to Rube Goldberg’s history and the design competition.  Students were surprised that he received an engineering degree from UC Berkeley, but decided to spend his life working as a cartoonist.  The group looked at examples of his invention cartoons to gain an understanding of why engineers and scientist have been inspired by his designed since the early 20th century.

After watching several examples of Rube Goldberg Constructions including a music video from the group OK Go, they were divided into two teams and introduced to their first task.  Students created five energy transfers with an end goal of popping a balloon.  Both teams successfully popped the balloon in two different ways.  They working in stages starting with individual design time, brainstorming as a team, then constructing.  The construction stage is where the groups how to learn to resolve problems that came up.