Thursday, April 4, 2013

3rd Grade Machine Brains

 This is one of my favorite projects of the entire year for any grade level. It consists of massive integration of the science curriculum into the art room. I've always really enjoyed science, so maybe that's part of the reason why I enjoy this project so much. The point of it is to design a machine that has at least eight steps that does something that naturally occurs in a person's head. 

We always start this project by checking out a few of Rube Goldberg's hilarious machine cartoons. My students always get a big kick out of his work and it gets them thinking about the possibilities for their own projects. 

 Next, we talk about the six different simple machines and take a look at examples of each. Finally, we look at a few videos of Rube Goldberg style machines that people have actually built and put on YouTube. My favorite is a music video by OK GO. My students go nuts over this video.

 Finally, it's time to actually do some artwork. It takes a couple of weeks to brainstorm and get sketches finalized. It sounds like a lot of time, but it really does take that amount of time to do a couple drafts in order to ensure that the machines make sense. Final art is done on a 12"x18" white paper. I trace each student's silhouette during the sketching phase so it is ready to go when they begin their final. All of the machine parts are made with scrap construction paper. Huzzah for science and art!

Check out the full lesson plan here.

Click here for access to the presentation I use to begin this project.
(Download the presentation from Google Drive to use it. It will download as a Quicktime file that can be used on both Mac and PC. You will be able to navigate through using the arrow keys on the keyboard.) 

8 comments:

Annie Jewett said...

Love this lesson, I'm going to adapt it and change it a bit for my 1st graders who are learning about simple machines right now.

David Fox said...

Do you know about "Rube Works: The Official Rube Goldberg Invention Game"? Would tie in perfectly with your Rube Goldberg project. http://RubeWorks.com

Zach Stoller said...

David, I didn't know about that game until you mentioned it. I'll have to download it. It reminds me a lot of an old DOS game called "The Incredible Machine." I grew up playing that particular game.

Sarah Clare said...

I just found your blog and love it! I'm a 1st year art teacher. How do you trace silhouettes? Thanks for any direction you can give!

Zach Stoller said...

Sarah, Thanks for the compliment about the blog. I'm glad it can be useful for you. In order to trace the silhouettes, I turn on my digital projector and project a blank white slide. I then have the students stand right in front of the white board in the front of my room. Their heads cast a shadow and I simply trace the shadow onto a 12x18 piece of paper. It takes 5-10 seconds per student. If you don't have a digital projector, you could always use an old overhead projector or even a lamp.

Jacqueline Carroll said...

Mr Stoller - fantastic work! I love your ideas, and must admit that I also used Rube as inspiration for one of my hypothetical lessons plans (haven't gotten into the classroom yet except for student teaching). Great minds think alike! This book was huge in sculpting my philosophy in the art room, you should absolutely pick it up!

http://www.amazon.de/Sparks-Genius-Thirteen-Thinking-Creative/dp/0618127453

Jacqueline Carroll said...

Mr. Stoller - awesome blog, thank you! I'm going to suggest that you check this book out, if you haven't already. It seems to be right up your alley!

http://www.amazon.de/Sparks-Genius-Thirteen-Thinking-Creative/dp/0618127453

Natural Woman said...

I absolutely love this post! This year I have to incorporate Science with my art lessons, and this project will be perfect!