The Rube Goldberg Launch System (writing instructions)
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A Rube Goldberg machine is one that does a simple task in an altogether complicated way. For example, the act of turning on a light via a switch in “Rube Goldberg” style would include as many as a dozen steps leading up to the switch actuation. Goldberg’s inventions depicted the series of acts cartoon style. He assigned a letter, A., B., C., D., etc., to each device in the process leading to turning on the switch. Below is an example of one of Goldberg’s cartoons. In a sense, each of Goldberg’s cartoons is an invention, though impractical. Of course, they would not be worth constructing or patenting. Their value is in the novelty and humor they provide.
Incidentally, Rube was an engineer. His creations, though attributed to cartooning, actually exhibit his engineering abilities. Engineering standards are observed in the inclusion of pulleys, Newton’s laws (including the law of gravitation), heat transfer, pneumatics, and other engineering methods and practices. Indeed, he made expert use of his education in designing his absurd devices. In the exercise below, beside each step is listed a science/engineering topic related to the process.
The Self-Operating Napkin Invention
By Rube Goldberg
The "Self-Operating Napkin" is activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.
As a writing exercise, study the drawing below, a complicated process for launching a rocket. Enter in the blanks the missing step or device in the list of actions. After completing the list, write a step by step instructional paragraph about the process. The value of this exercise is to adhere to accuracy, thoroughness, and clarity. Whether one is baking a cake from a written recipe, or a technician is drafting the steps of a rocket test, failure to be accurate, concise, and thorough leads to a spoiled cake or failed rocket. “Write what you mean, and mean what you write” is how one person put it.
(Hint: Several of the steps are included below to assist in analyzing the launch system. Fill in the rest of the steps and devices then compose an instructional paragraph.) The sketch below is an adaptation of various Rube Goldberg cartoons fashioned into a rocket launch activation mechanism.
Turns on Hot Iron
Heats Ice Block
Drips water into pan
Channels water into pail
Water in pail pulls pulley string lifting fulcrum arm
Drops iron ball
Pulls pulley string
Applies force to mallet
Kicks second boot transfer bars
Guides football trajectory
Pulls on string
Pulls scissors handle
Supports bag to be dropped
Pulls down scale arm
Pushes torch upward
There are eight blanks in the above sequence of the rocket launching process. Reasonable entries will be allowed as correct. Include the entries to compose the instruction paragraph for launching the rocket.