In this captivating simulation, a tennis ball rolls off a ramp. The user is challenged to arrange objects in this space to build a Rube Goldberg machine that will drop the ball gently into a cup on the floor. Sound effects add to the enjoyment of watching the motion.
As an introduction to invention, this site is great! Changing a design is quick and easy, to encourage lots of messing around, and there are enough objects, with some in pairs, that many different solutions are possible. The ease of repetition also encourages users to build a system by focusing on only one part at a time or by building subsystems. The only drawback is that the simulation can get stuck, requiring the user to start over, from scratch.
Some of the physics is incorrect, e.g. springs that add energy to the bouncing ball. Nevertheless, it might be a useful exercise for students to try out the simulation and then comment on the physics.
<a href="http://www.compadre.org/informal/items/detail.cfm?ID=462">Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Tinker Ball. Washington: Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, 2003.</a>
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Tinker Ball. Washington: Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, 2003. http://inventionatplay.org/playhouse_tinker.html (accessed 12 February 2016).
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