How to Make a Chain Reaction Machine

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Building a chain reaction machine can take lots of trial and error, but do not fear--you are capable! Here are some tips to help you get started!

How do you create a chain reaction?

  1. Play around with household items
    • Cardboard
    • Legos
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Marbles
    • Dominoes
    • Here is a complete list of items!
  2. Brainstorm
    • Begin combining materials

Ex: Marbles and Dominoes

How can we knock down a series of dominoes? Try knocking them down with marbles

  1. Make a list in order of steps
    • Include each of your materials and write out the series of reactions

Ex: Car goes down a ramp and hits bucket, bucket releases marbles into dominoes, dominoes send a bouncy ball rolling… etc.

  1. Experiment and don’t give up!
    • Build your chain reaction machine knowing that it will need adjustments
    • Your machine may take multiple tries, but you can do it!

Ideas of triggers to power your chain reaction:

  • Mousetrap
  • Seesaw
  • Popsicle sticks releasing balls down ramps
  • Rubber band and spoon catapult
  • Balloons
  • Dominoes

Learn more about triggers in our video here.

Tips for Success:

  • Work backwards
    • The goal of the Budding Inventors Challenge is to water a sprout. Your machine will be easy to complete once you figure out what will pour the water at the very end. Nail the final task and then work your way back to the beginning.
  • Use failure to improve
    • Record your practice runs and observe what is going wrong
    • Don’t be afraid to remove part of your machine from your original plan
    • Remind your child that mistakes help us learn
  • Use gravity to your advantage
    • Start your machine leveraged up on tables and chairs so that you can use ramps and gravity in aspects of your machine as it gets closer to the ground.

View our full submission guidelines here!





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