Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3rd Grade Machine Brains

This is now the third time that I've done this project and it continues to be one of my favorites.  For this third grade project, I start out by showing the students the work of the cartoonist Rube Goldberg.  We discuss his hilariously complicated machines.  Next, we look at the six kinds of simple machines and check out examples of each.  Finally, I have been able to find all kinds of fantastic videos of chain reaction "machines" that people have built.  One that is particularly good is a music video for the song "This Too Shall Pass" by OK Go.  Definitely check it out if you have a chance.

The students must then design a machine that fits inside their head that will do something that their head actually does.  Kids have chosen everything from coming up with an idea or blinking to machines that make boogers.  I require that their machines have at least eight steps and include four of the six simple machines.  It takes a couple of weeks for the kids to refine their sketches, but the end products end up looking really cool.  I have the kids use construction paper scraps to make the machine parts.  After the artwork is finished, I have each student write about how their machine works on their artist statement.  

In the images above, I included full student examples as well as an excellent example of the artist statement.  That particular statement goes along with the first artwork example.  I also included a few close-ups of specific machine parts that I thought were extra cool.  Enjoy!


Phyl said...

I used to do something similar many years ago called "Bionic Brains". I haven't done it in a while and I love your Rube Goldberg twist to the lesson. I think I'd like to revive it! Back then, I even had a little jigsaw and heavy cardboard, and we'd cut the sillhouettes out and make them stand up. One side we did the inside of the brain, and on the other side we painted self-portrait profiles.

ArtMuse said...

This lesson is brilliant! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! I'm going to talk to with my science teacher and see which grades she does simple machines with and am totally going to do something like this with my students. I think its great how you created a lesson that really makes your kids think!

Gabriela said...

What a cool lesson. I bet the kids were completely engaged during the entire process. great job.