Chain Reaction Machine

A couple of Saturdays ago we experimented with chain reactions in the workshop in MAKSEHOP. Dan, one of our MAKESHOP Educators, and I  spent the entire day building and adding to our chain reaction machine with any visitor who wanted to participate. We built our machine out of recycled materials, tape and some of our circuit blocks. Essentially our chain reaction machine was a series of ramps and ball that either knocked something over, turned something on or bumped into something. Some of the kids were happy to just watch the ball roll down the ramps. Others added pieces and parts to the machine. And one boy and his mom spent over two hours experimenting with different sizes of balls and their placement in the machine.


The lever system in our chain reaction machine.

We had a lever system that required a weight to fall on it.


Our cork ball rolling towards a funnel at the end of the machine.

There were a variety of types of balls. Large cork ball, wooden balls of various sizes, etc.


Our large wheel circuit block added some electricity into our chain reaction machine.

At one point we added a power source, a switch and our large wheel and motor pulley circuit block. This piece of the machine was able to be turned on and the wheel would spin and pull a piece of wood out of the way of a ball on one of the ramps.


The finale’ of the machine: a piece of cardboard with the words “The End” laser cut into it.

At one point in the day I had the great idea to use a Makey Makey to create a switch at the end of the machine that would send a signal to a computer to tell our laser cutter to turn on and etch a drawing of the words “The End” into a piece of cardboard. We went from cardboard and tape to computers and lasers in the span of one fun day in MAKESHOP.



Kevin is a teacher by trade. He loves dinosaurs, sloths and magnets.

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