On Expedition: 7th Grade Technology and Work


Circle up 7th graders to reflect upon Habits of Scholarship and all the awesome science stuff learned about simple machines during this Expedition!  The Gold Standard of the Science Field Journal has fostered innovative scientific thinking and doing at FSI this year.



IMG_0035IMG_0040IMG_0033IMG_0032If you had visited The Franklin School of Innovation 7th grade this month, you would have definitely seen and heard students leading their own learning, through: inquiry, innovation, and design-thinking, as they practiced the work of scientists, historians, writers, artists, and mathematicians.   I recently visited a class Sarah Gold had dedicated to independent work time.  Here’s what she was facilitating, as students engaged in the work of the day: 

Complete work on each of the following sections of your infographic:

  • Introduction
    • Who is Rube Goldberg? What is a Rube Goldberg machine? Why did we build Rube Goldberg machines in science? How does this relate to the expedition?
  • Sketch & Description 
    • See student folder in g-drive for scanned-in sketch
    • Write a step-by-step account of how your Rube Goldberg machine works, including how each of the simple machines are involved. (See rubric attached for details.)
  • Machines and Mechanical Advantage
    • What is mechanical advantage? How do the simple machines in your Rube Goldberg create mechanical advantage? How does this help you do work on the marble? (See rubric attached for details.)
  • Energy conservation
    • Work and energy are basically the same thing. What types of energy does your Rube Goldberg machine use to work? How is energy transferred throughout your Rube Goldberg? How is potential energy transformed to kinetic energy or vice versa in your RG machine? (See rubric attached for details.)

RG Rubric – Sheet1



Palpable to all present were the purpose and intensity of this 7th grade science classroom circle!  Seventh graders held silent attention to instructions for the moment of truth: demonstration of Rube Goldberg machines that work.  All the Habits of Scholarship and the Academic Standards were magically merged into the practical demonstration of each RG design machine tested in a group of peers.  Feedback was kind, timely, and meaningful.  Design tweaks were made, based upon this supportive feedback, and most were successful. When they weren’t it was GROWTH MINDSET, that kicked in.  Each student was supported and inspired to problem-solve and redesign for success.


This is Expeditionary Learning at its best.


7th graders started their exploration of Simple Machines by creating and assessing the effectiveness of human machines in the Expedition Kickoff:


See Gold Standard RG machines by FSI 7th graders:  https://sites.google.com/a/thefsi.us/the-gold-standard/home/modules/4—work-matters/week07-march06


Read more about Rube Goldberg


Just in case you were curious, these are NC State Standards for Science covered in this Expediton:

7.P.1.1 Explain how the motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed with respect to some other object.

7.P.1.2 Explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object (including friction, gravity and magnets).

7.P.2.1 Explain how kinetic and potential energy contribute to the mechanical energy of an object.

7.P.2.2 Explain how energy can be transformed from one form to another (specifically potential energy and kinetic energy) using a model or diagram of a moving object (roller coaster, pendulum, or cars on ramps as examples).

7.P.2.3 Recognize that energy can be transferred from one system to another when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance (work)…

7.P.2.4 Explain how simple machines such as inclined planes, pulleys, levers and wheel and axles are used to create mechanical advantage and increase efficiency.

Overarching questions:

  • How do machines work?
  • How did machines change working conditions as countries industrialized?
  • How does technological change shape Asheville’s workplace today?

Long-term learning targets:

I can explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object.

I can explain how energy is transferred and transformed in mechanical systems.

I can model energy transfer from one system to another when work is done.

I can explain how simple machines increase the efficiency of work.

Lesson Vocabulary:

  • Force
  • Work
  • Efficiency
  • Energy
  • Mechanical advantage
  • Velocity

Daily learning targets:

  • I can design and build a Rube Goldberg machine that does work on a marble.
  • I can demonstrate how energy is transferred and transformed in mechanical systems and how simple machines increase the efficiency of work.
  • I can present my design and analysis using accurate scale drawings, data, calculations, and text in an infographic using Piktochart.

In this lesson, students will apply their knowledge of complex and simple machines to design a Rube Goldberg Machine. Students will calculate the mechanical advantage of 1, 2, 3, or more simple machines in their design. Students should also relate Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion to their machine.
Pre-requisite knowledge: Exposure to Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. Experience with six simple machines. Practice working mechanical advantage problems and efficiency.



Meanwhile, in Mr. Clendenin’s 7th Grade Social Studies Classes: students have created Illustrated Mind Maps to share what they’ve learned on expedition about Technology and Work and social, ethical, environmental consequences:

Here are a few of the Social Science Learning Targets students have been tracking their mastery of in this expedition:

I can describe the changes in farming methods that  created the “Agricultural Revolution.”
I can explain how the Agricultural Revolution created an increase in industrialization.
I can identify and explain specific inventions that sparked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
I can explain how new inventions lead to the creation of the factory system in England.
I can describe how  the factory system changed the face of labor in England.
I can explain how  the Industrial Revolution sparked the rise of capitalism and the main characteristics of that economic system.
I can explain how the economic conflict created by the rise of capitalism affected society.I can describe  the environmental consequences of urbanization and industrialization.
I can explain how society responded to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution.
I can explain how industrialization changed political ideas in society.


(There are many more, but this list gives blog readers a “gist” of the deep thinking required for students and teachers on this expedition!)

Want to test your knowledge of simple machines and work?


In ELA:  https://sites.google.com/a/thefsi.us/fsi-7th-grade-15-16/home/english-language-arts/weekof3-14-16

Living Portraits and interviews with members of our FSI community about technology in the workplace…

Thank you all who have participated in this invaluable opportunity for FSI students to apply knowledge in practicing authentic inquiry, leadership, research, and writing!  We are looking forward to the final celebration of learning for the 7th grade expedition!



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