Playful Engineers online classes are interactive, feedback-based, and ready for action! We use the Seesaw app, which is safe, secure, and built to protect your privacy. Read more about the Seesaw privacy policies here. We do require parental permission for children to use the app.
For Organizations Registering Families:
Your school, library, or community group handles registration as you would any physical program. Seesaw generates QR codes which you send to your registrants. This is a great way to prep for, and follow-up after, an “all-in” Zoom event. There is a “class app” for kids, and a “family app” for parents/caregivers so they can keep track of their child’s online activity on Seesaw. The apps can be accessed on a smart device or web browser – even a Kindle. Teacher or librarian has an assigned role of “co-teacher”, to provide an extra layer of safety and transparency. Your organization funds the class; there is no fee for families.
For Families Registering Independently:
If you’d like to register your kids independently of a sponsoring organization, contact Jay directly to register for an ongoing online class for one or more children in your family. You may also choose to register with another family or group of families, in which case you have the option for participants to be able to interact with each other, across families, through the app. There is a “class app” for kids, and a “*family app” for parents/caregivers to keep track of their child’s online activity on Seesaw, and to stay in communication with the teacher. The apps can be accessed on a smart device or web browser – even a Kindle. (* family app is required for independent registration)
Please contact Jay for more information about scheduling or joining one of these online classes! To learn more about the Seesaw Platform, click here.
Some sample class instructions and activities:
ACTIVITY 1: Where Do You Start?
Hey everyone, welcome to this class on Chain Reactions at Home! I’m Jay Mankita, Playful Engineers teaching artist. We’ll be working together with the Seesaw Class app for the next few weeks, building Rube Goldberg Machines, and documenting our progress...
Here’s what I’d like you to do:
1) Read and respond to the activities, starting with this one. 2) Practice responding in different ways, using the tools in the Seesaw app. You can draw, type, add photos, videos, audio recordings, shapes and backgrounds, even publish your work to the class blog. IMPORTANT: Please don’t include photos of yourself or your family – so you and your family can stay private, while sharing your chain reaction progress with the world!
2) Check the blog page – there’s a “globe” icon at the bottom of the Seesaw app that takes you to the blog. You’ll see the progress of other kids from the class published there too! IMPORTANT: Please don’t include photos of yourself or your family – so you and your family can stay private, while sharing your chain reaction progress with the world! Check the blog page – there’s a “globe” icon at the bottom of this screen that takes you there. You’ll see the progress of other kids from the class published there too!
3) Ask questions at any time, and I will answer within 24 hours, though possibly A LOT quicker.
4) Involve your other family members in your project – DIY means “do it yourself”, not “do it by yourself”!
5) You can save all your work to your computer or camera roll on your smart device. That way, when the class has ended, you can keep your memories.
6) You are not being graded for these activities. I expect you to have fun, developing your skills and deepening your understanding of this fascinating world of forces and objects. Make mistakes. Learn from your failures, and from your successes – that’s making progress!
7) Now, let’s see what you can make!
ACTIVITY 2: Read and Respond: Intro to Rube Goldberg Machines
Rube Goldberg Machines are overcomplicated ways to accomplish simple tasks, named after Rube Goldberg (1883-1970), an engineer and illustrator who drew silly cartoons. Here’s more about him on Wikipedia.
To be a Rube Goldberg Machine, it has to:
1) have one simple goal at the end, like ringing a bell, feeding a dog, or watering a plant.
2) be a chain reaction.
3) be more complicated than necessary.
Using the Seesaw tools, you can draw your own imaginary Rube Goldberg Machine, or make up and record a crazy Rube Goldberg Machine story. You can also take pictures and videos of a machine you make yourself from your own toys, and from stuff you find around your house.
ACTIVITY 3: GATHER MATERIALS
To build your Rube Goldberg Machines, you’ll need materials to work with. (While you’re gathering stuff though, pay attention and stay safe! if you’re not sure about something, check with the adults you live with, and make sure you’re not going to break something valuable, or do something dangerous.)
You can use all sorts of stuff to make Rube Goldberg Machines – the wackier the better! Here’s a list of some of my favorite materials. If you like, you can use this list to get started finding your own stuff. Circle or highlight the materials that you find at home, and also, add your own items to the list. Then submit your response!SUGGESTED MATERIALS LIST Surfaces: table, floor, shelf, counter, flat board, Tools: drill, ruler, scissors, hot glue gun, hole punchers, Toys: Hot Wheels Tracks, Tinker Toys, K’Nex, Legos, dominoes, popsicle sticks, railroad tracks, marble runs, action figures, Tracks: cardboard, stretched rubber bands, booktops, Balls: marble, ping pong ball, golf ball, rubber ball, rolled up aluminum foil, baseball, tennis ball, Building Blocks: blocks, scrap wood, cans, boxes, bins, chairs, stools, Tubes: Paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls Fasteners: rubber bands, glue, hot glue, tape, brass fasteners, string, wire (from clothes hangars), clamps, clothespins, twist ties, pipe cleaners, magnets, Pullers: string, chain (lightweight), ribbon, floss, fishing line, shoelace, tape, Rollers: balls, plastic containers, toy wheels, toy cars, fruits & vegetables, cans, tubes, dowels, cone shapes, lids, tape rolls, tape roll inserts, nuts & bolts, discs, paper wheels, spools, Dominoes: dominoes, clothespins, CD cases, cassette tape cases, books, folded playing cards, Weights: dominoes, blocks, coins, Spinners: blocks with holes (bushings), rods, pen and marker housings and caps, things that turn freely like swivels (lazy Susans),
ACTIVITY 4: Build a Track Feeder
Click to read this tutorial on track feeders for inspiration. Click on the pic to go right to the Post your progress, including failures, successes, questions, and “aha” moments. Use videos, pics, notes, drawings, etc… This is just one part of a Rube Goldberg Machine – you can add on whatever other parts you like!