May-June 2019 STEAM Challenge

Okay, everyone! This is it! Grab your buddy, your school mate, your dog (wouldn’t recommend), or a sibling and get MOVING. You have one month to create a design for this month’s challenge.

Expo Day: June 25th @ 5p!!!


These rules apply to every monthly STEAM challenge:

  1. You must design, create, build, AND present your project with at least one other peer.

  2. You must meet each listed requirement for the Challenge in order to show off your design on Expo Day.

  3. You can use any and all resources you have available at home, at Urban STEAM Lab, or anywhere else. Be creative! Ask questions!

  4. Be prepared to talk about your design during competition day. This is a way to inspire other people to design and create!


The Rube Goldberg Challenge!

For this month’s challenge, you have an additional two weeks to work on your design! Why? Because this one is challenging.

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, inventor, and engineer who is famous for drawing cartoons that illustrate overly complicated machines that perform very simple tasks, such as a “self-operating napkin.” His ideas were later adapted in movies and in television for comedic effect (think Home Alone!). Here are a few examples of Rube Goldberg machines at work:

On Expo Day you get to show off a video of your machine on our big screen projector or your actual machine (if it’s easily transported)! There are a few design requirements that must be met:

  1. The end goal, or task, your machine should accomplish is watering a plant.

  2. Your design should include at least 6 steps or parts.

  3. Your design should include at least 3 different types of simple machines. This is a cute song that describes each simple machine. Simple machines are devices that make work easier for us. There are 6 types:

    1. Wheel & Axle - Makes work easier by moving objects across distances. The wheel (or round end) turns with the axle (or cylindrical post) causing movement. On a wagon, for example, a container rests on top of the axle.

    2. Inclined Plane - A flat surface (or plane) that is slanted, or inclined, so it can help move objects across distances. A common inclined plane is a ramp.

    3. Wedge - Instead of using the smooth side of the inclined plane to make work easier, you can also use the pointed edges to do other kinds of work. When you use the edge to push things apart, this movable inclined plane is called a wedge. An ax blade is one example of a wedge.

    4. Lever - Any tool that pries something loose is a lever. Levers can also lift objects. A lever is an arm that “pivots” (or turns) against a fulcrum (the point or support on which a lever pivots). Think of the claw end of a hammer that you use to pry nails loose; it’s a lever. A see-saw is also a lever. This video explains how levers work!

    5. Pulley - Instead of an axle, a wheel could also rotate a rope, cord, or belt. This variation of the wheel and axle is the pulley. In a pulley, a cord wraps around a wheel. As the wheel rotates, the cord moves in either direction. Attach a hook to the cord, and now you can use the wheel’s rotation to raise and lower objects, making work easier. On a flagpole, for example, a rope is attached to a pulley to raise and lower the flag more easily. This video explains how pulleys work!

    6. Screw - When you wrap an inclined plane around a cylinder, its sharp edge becomes another simple tool: a screw. If you put a metal screw beside a ramp, it may be hard to see similarities, but a screw is actually just another kind of inclined plane. One example of how a screw helps you do work is that it can be easily turned to move itself through a solid space like a block of wood.

  4. You can use any materials you find useful. Be creative!