Exploring Chain Reactions

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Introduction 

Imagine that you just got into bed and realized that you forgot to turn off the lights. Sure, you could just get up again — but wouldn’t it be fun to build a chain reaction machine like the one above? Chain reaction machines are made up of everyday objects and designed to accomplish a simple task in a silly and complicated way. Movement is created by storing and transferring energy, while using gravity and simple machines like levers and pulleys to help it along. We’ve broken down these complex concepts into some simple activities. Build, reset, and try again. And most of all, have fun as you make your own unique chain reaction machine!

Design Challenge

Explore stored energy and energy transfer as you build a series of chain reactions.

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Subject

Engineering

Ages

8+

Time

30+ minutes

Key Concepts

Simple machines, energy transfer, stored energy, potential and kinetic energy, perseverance, cause and effect

Want a challenge?

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JUMP IN!

Sketch out your chain reaction before you build it! Where will your imagination take you?

Want a challenge?

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REWARDING & FLEXIBLE

Create a chain reaction machine by connecting at least three reactions from a single starting action.

Want a challenge?

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DESIGN CHALLENGES AHEAD!

Try starting your device using a trigger. Triggers are built-in mechanisms that release the stored energy in your device.

If you think this looks fun, wait ‘til you try these!