1st and 4th Graders Team Up to Create Rube Goldberg Machines

November 18th, 2015 by Deborah Fike

When I was growing up, I rarely interacted with kids outside my immediate age group at school.  1st graders played with other 1st graders, 2nd graders had separate lunch and recess times, and so on, until I reached high school.  Many schools are bucking this trend by having cooperative learning and play times where multi-aged kids have better opportunities to learn how to interact with each other.

Contraption Maker recently had the opportunity to be a part of this social emotional learning (SEL) movement at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana.  First grade teacher Ms. Mary Lee Saucier contacted me in October about getting free Contraption Maker copies for her school.  Her first grade class wanted to use Contraption Maker while learning about cause and effect as a comprehension skill in reading.  To better illustrate cause and effect, her class studied Rube Goldberg machines, then spent several days learning the tools available in Contraption Maker by solving puzzles within the program.

St. Martin 1st graders working together on Contraption Maker puzzles on a SMART board.

St. Martin 1st graders working together on Contraption Maker puzzles on a SMART board.


 

We love to see schools taking a “science” game like Contraption Maker and creating an English Language Arts lesson with it, but Ms. Saucier took the idea a step further by pairing up with a fourth grade class on campus. Each set of students worked collaboratively in the computer lab to design operational contraptions from scratch.

1st and 4th graders working together to create Rube Goldberg machines.

1st and 4th graders working together to create Rube Goldberg machines.


 

According to Ms. Saucier, “The result was amazing! The students were constructively working together to create, design, and solve problems. The conversations that erupted between the students were extremely meaningful and productive. Our younger students were able to share their knowledge of the program and the tools available, while the older students were able to share their advanced science and math skills. Together, they designed creative and successful contraptions!”

Even school administrators came to check out the lesson.

Even school administrators came to check out the lesson.


 

We’re always excited to hear about the kinds of projects teachers dream up with Contraption Maker.  Many thanks to Ms. Saucier for providing pictures and text for this blog post.  If you have a Contraption Maker story you want to share, we’d love to hear from you!  Send me (Deborah@spotkin.com) a line.

-Deborah Fike
 

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