Music Machine Challenge Part 1

Invent a Rube Goldberg Music Machine. Combine the Snap the Gap MUSIC Kit with simple machines to create a wacky mechanical musical instrument.


Note: Sessions #4 & #5 will help your mentee create a unique invention that they will share in the final showcase session.


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Session Details

Invention: Music Machine Challenge

Theme: Engineering Design Process

Time: 2 hrs

Goals for Musical Machine Challenge Session #4:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for a machine that makes music

  2. Choose a direction to work towards

  3. Explore interactions with different Bits and materials

  4. Create a sketch of the invention idea

*In session #5, your mentee will build off of the work from session #4

Materials:

  • Mentors will need to bring a connected device (phone, ipad, or computer) to access instructional videos.

  • Snap The Gap MUSIC Kit

  • Paper & Pens,Pencils, and/or Markers

Quick Resources:

 

Meet Up

10 min

PAIR OFF & CATCH UP

Discuss what your mentee explored on JAM.com since last session. What topics did they find interesting and why? Did they participate in any challenges.If possible, take a look together.

 

Inspire

10 min

For the final showcase, your mentee will create a musical Rube Goldberg machine. Here are a few examples of how others have approached this challenge using littleBits:

Musical Rube Goldberg by Rolling Robots:

Sound trigger is set off by the marble after it goes down the ramp

Sound trigger is set off by the marble after it goes down the ramp

Marble rolls down ramp and land on littleBits button Bit

Marble rolls down ramp and land on littleBits button Bit

 
 

Chain Reaction Machine: This machine triggers music to play out of littleBits MP3 Player and Speaker Bits. The sound it triggered by a book falling on a Button Bit.

 

Build It Noise Band: “We built a noise band because none of us have time to play in a noise band.”

 

Epic Inspiration:

OK Go - Giant Rube Goldberg

"Marble Machine" by Wintergatan

Sound Machine with littleBits

 

DISCUSS/CAREERS:

  • Product designers and engineers often make simple machines. Sometimes these simple machines exist inside a product (for example, a toaster has a mechanism that pops the toast up after a set amount of time). Other times, simple machines exist as the product itself (for example, a bicycle).

    • What simple machines can you think of in real life?

    • What are some everyday objects you could turn into simple machines?

  • In the Music Machine challenge, you’re going to take what you’ve learned so far and think like a product designer and engineer to invent a machine that makes sound.


Invent!

60 min

CHALLENGE

Invent a Rube Goldberg Music Machine. Combine the Snap the Gap MUSIC Kit with simple machines to create a wacky mechanical musical instrument.

In this challenge, you’re going to design your own multistep machines that make sound.

  • Once you start your machine, it should be able to run without any help from you. This means that each step must be triggered automatically by the step before it. Your machine should have at least two steps. (Bonus points if you can create more steps!)

Goals for Today’s Session:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for a machine that makes music

  2. Choose a direction to work towards

  3. Explore interactions with different Bits and materials

  4. Create a sketch of the invention


1. Brainstorming

  • Start by thinking of what sounds you want to create. Make a list of 3-5 ideas. Here are some examples:

    • Create a “ping” by dropping a marble in a tin can

    • Create a beat using littleBits

    • Make a siren sound with littleBits

    • Create rain sounds by dropping pebbles (or rice) from one plastic cup to another

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2. Choose an Idea

  • Choose 2 different sounds you want your invention to create. What simple machines and littleBits that could help you achieve these sounds? Hint: think back to the previous sessions. Here are some examples:

    • To drop a marble into a tin can, you may need to build a ramp.

    • To make the littleBits microsequencer play a beat, you may need a lever to trigger it.

    • To make a siren sound, you may want to try the littleBits oscillator Bit.

    • Don’t worry about tying them together just yet. Start with one sound at a time. You can also always add more sounds later if you have time.

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3. Explore your Bits and Materials

  • Look through your Bits and think about how each one could help. How could you use the sensors in your kit to trigger sounds with littleBits?

  • Are there other materials available to you that might be helpful? Are there everyday objects you could use to create a chain reaction? String, books cardboard? Make a list!

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Here is some inspiration for making connections between different elements of your noise-making machine

 

4. Sketch Out Your Idea

Make a sketch of your idea on paper

  • What interactions will you use to create the two different sounds?

  • Label what Bits and materials you plan to use

  • What are the key components you need to build?

  • What ideas do you have for connecting the simple machines, so that they work together?

    *SAVE THIS SKETCH FOR REFERENCE IN THE NEXT SESSION

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5. Make a plan for your prototype

  • Discuss with your mentee if there are any special materials they want to use for their invention.

  • Make a plan to bring these materials for next session. Perhaps you can divide and conquer - you can bring a few things and so can your mentee.

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Reflect

10 Min

DISCUSS WITH YOUR MENTEE

  • What do engineers and designers do?

  • How do they figure out what to make?

 

Group Share

[Optional]

10 Min

MENTEES SHARE

  • Mentees show their sketch with the group and share the following:

    • What interactions will you use to create the two different sounds?

    • What Bits and materials do you plan to use?

 

Wrap Up

5 Min

CLEAN UP

  • Place all Bits back in the box

  • Check with your site coordinator about storing your mentee’s prototype next week before the showcase.

  • Store the sketch in the box or make sure to bring it next time!

 

Next Steps

5 min

SUPER IMPORTANT HOMEWORK

  • Discuss with your mentee if there are any special materials they want to use for their final invention. Make a plan to bring these materials for next session. Perhaps you can divide and conquer - you can bring a few things and so can your mentee.

  • Coming up in the next session:

    • Create a prototype

    • Test your prototype

    • Iterate and make updates to the invention

    • Prep for Showcase

 

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