Did you know that there’s a huge shortage of young people attracted to engineering jobs and a lack of diversity in the profession with the workforce being 88% male and 92% white! I remember taking part in a special engineering event many years ago which was trying to encourage more women into the field, so it makes me quite sad that in the last 20 years the situation hasn’t changed much.
However, hopefully things are about to improve! A government initiative called the Year of Engineering aims to shake-up people’s ideas about engineering, inspiring the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers by showing them what engineers actually do.
The Holiday Makers
The Holiday Makers is a fun series of activities and challenges for parents to do with their children ( aged 7-16 ). I am always looking for ideas to keep my kids busy and active so these are perfect for us. My girls love anything creative and crafty so these inventive challenges will defintiely appeal to their inquisitive nature.
Holiday Makers and the Year of Engineering rather like Science Sparks hope to capture the imagination of a generation of children, showing them that science and engineering knowledge and skills open up a world of opportunities. So make some time, pick a challenge and go for it!
Chain Reaction Challenge
Holiday Makers challenged us to make our own chain reaction. Inspired by their guide on the website, this is what we came up with.
What is a chain reaction?
A chain reaction is a sequence of events where one thing triggers another.
This is also an example of a Rube Goldberg machine
What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?
Rube Goldberg machines use the principle of a chain reaction to achieve an end goal. The end goal in the case of our chain reaction is the popping of the balloon. Creating a machine like this is a great way for children to learn about cause and effect, conservation of energy and momentum.
Make a Rube Goldberg Machine – Step 1
The force of air from the fan starts off the chain reaction by knocking over dominoes. The first domino collides with the second knocking that over and so on until the ball is pushed down the ramp.
Make a Rube Goldberg Machine – Step 2
The ball is initially stationary until the force of the last dominoes forces it forwards and down the ramp. The downward slope of the ramp means the ball gains momentum as it travels.
Make a Rube Goldberg Machine – Step 3
The ball pushes a wooden car with a needle attached forward. This is an example of conservation of momentum. Momentum from the ball is transferred to the car, forcing it forwards.
Remember only moving objects have momentum.
Make a Rube Goldberg Machine – Step 4
The needle bursts the balloon.
This part was a little tricky to get working. The first car we tried was too heavy for the ball to push forwards and the second too small.
Experimenting with different objects actually made the process even more fun and the end result very rewarding.
We LOVED creating a chain reaction and can’t wait to design and build more.
Are you ready to start inventing?
Post in collaboration with The Holiday Makers