Cats, Easter eggs and Rube Goldberg machines – deliver the Science Oxford Challenge

We’re all facing new challenges at the moment, and looking for creative ways to bring fun and learning into the home during ‘lockdown’. So why not get your household and family together and take our Easter Science Oxford Challenge, for the chance to win a free family visit to the Science Oxford Centre, Exploration Zone and woodland when we re-open! Our Challenge this week is to build a Rube Goldberg Machine – perhaps to deliver or break open an Easter egg, using materials found around the home. Like dominoes or knock-on-effect machines, they are intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an overly complicated way, with all kinds of physics going on! Mostly, they’re a lot of fun to make.

What new challenges have you or your family taken on in these unprecedented times? This week, our centre manager, Kat Kelly has been out and about in the Science Oxford electric van delivering science kits to local schools for free, including Bayards Hill and Windmill primary schools, and to Wood Farm and St Andrews schools after Easter. Some of our team are also helping out with other Covid-19 response projects, and we’ll be sharing their updates over the next few weeks and months. So, once she was home from delivering kits, we gave her another challenge – to build her own machine. Watch what happened below, complete with trials, errors and cats!

Join in at home and share your short video for a chance to win. You can use your phone or make a photo diary, and tag us #ScienceOxfordChallenge on twitter, Facebook or Instagram @ScienceOxford. Or, you can email your Rube Goldberg Machine to [email protected] – post, tweet and share over the easter holidays, last entry by Friday 17th April. We can’t wait to hear from you.  Look out for more challenges and fun things to do coming soon, and you could let us know what other challenges and projects you have been helping with!

Kat’s Top Tips

Think about all the different ways you can make something move. Things can fall, or roll or swing or bump in to each other and pass on their momentum. What forces might be in action like gravity or friction? At Science Oxford we have a school workshop called Topple Bump and Roll where we make Rube Goldberg machines, so I have some practice. Here are my top tips.

  1. Test often! Build a small piece, test it works, then add on.
  2. If you don’t know where to start, perhaps pick your ending instead.
  3. Stay calm and keep trying. If something doesn’t work, ask why and adjust it, engineers do this all the time. This will not work many times before it works, but when it finally does it’s the best!

Tell us how many times you tried and what did and didn’t work.

One with Cats – Time.com https://time.com/5806556/cats-rube-goldberg

Honda advert using car parts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ve4M4UsJQo

OK Go music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

At home Rube Goldberg: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217111281231112&id=1141482051

Objects with the same refractive index: https://twitter.com/jhbspacex/status/1235477008659951617?s=21

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