What can we learn from Rube Goldberg?

Pulitzer winning editorial cartoonist, inventor, engineer, and author Rube Goldberg left a significant legacy to inspire makers and thinkers. While most believe that the STEAM Education revolution started just a few years decades ago, Goldberg has been inspiring tinkerers with his detailed drawings for generations, aside the great inventor artist Leonardo daVinci.

Goldberg drew an estimated 50,000 cartoons starting in the 1920s, many of which depict delightfully wacky machines completing simple tasks. Goldberg once said that his creations were symbols for “man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results.”

Rube Goldberg is the only person to have ever been listed in the dictionary as an adjective! That’s how special he is.  Learn more about this intriguing individual here.

 

Learning the Goldberg Way

Title: The Self-Operating Napkin Artist: Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) Created: 1931 Medium: pen and ink printed

 

 

Approach life with humor and curiosity. View tasks with whimsy and playfulness. Break it down into simpler parts. Share your ideas, however wacky they are!

 

Complicated, multi-step contraptions when broken down are simply simple machines. The wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, lever, pulley, and screw are all around us, we use them in our daily tasks.  Learning about and building with them helps us explore science and engineering in an engaging, practical, inspired way.

Building and testing the concepts of movement and force with simple machines allows for practice and repetition, or in STEAM Ed lingo, fostering “testing and iteration” skills. Repeated failure and making changes are a good thing!

Top Five benefits of exploring simple machines:

— via the Wacky Contraption Challenge

  1. Solve real-world, relevant problems together. Collaborate and Communicate! Explore the power of invention.
  2. Practice iteration skills and perseverance, aka F.A.I.L First Attempt in Learning.
  3. Flex design thinking muscles.
  4. Supplies are low-cost and readily available.
  5. Wild, Wacky, and Outrageous ideas encouraged! Make it FUN!
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