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Teaching with videogames: teach physics with 'Contraption Maker'

Explore energy and create crazy creations in Contraption Maker.

Contraption Maker is a single-player computer game where players solve puzzles based on Rube-Goldberg (or chain reaction) machines.

There are many levels to play through and players have a range of objects experiment with. There is also a sandbox mode where players can create their own puzzles.

Contraption Maker provides a physics sandbox for players to explore energy and energy transfers/transformations. The controls are simple and easy for players of all ability levels to learn.

Year levels: adaptable for students grade 6 to year 10

Subject areas: Science: physics

Suggested duration: 2 lessons

Equipment you'll need:

Download the full lesson plan

The lesson plan includes links to the Victorian Curriculum, indications of lesson timing, and ideas for differentiation and assessment.

In this lesson, students will

1. Play Contraption Maker and analyse Rube-Goldberg machines
2. Create Rube-Goldberg contraptions in the game that use energy transfers and energy transformations, and identify the difference
3. Make a Rube-Goldberg machine in real life
4. Present their machines and the different energy types to the class

Learning goals

Years 5 - 6
Know Electrical energy can be transferred between objects
Electrical energy can be transformed into other types of energy
Be able to Identify when electrical energy has been transferred to another object (e.g. from a battery to a light bulb)
Identify when electrical energy has been transformed into another type of energy (e.g. the light bulb transforms the electrical energy into light energy)
Improve Ability to communicate using the correct scientific terminology
Years 7 - 8
Know Energy comes in different forms (e.g. kinetic, electrical potential, light, heat, sound, chemical potential, gravitational potential)
Energy can be transferred between objects
Energy can be transformed between the different types
Be able to Identify the different types of energy in a given situation
Describe the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy
Describe the energy transfers and transformations taking place in a given situation (e.g. a level from Contraption Maker)
Improve Ability to communicate using the correct scientific terminology
Years 9 - 10
Know Law of Conservation of Energy – in a system the total amount of energy remains the same
Be able to Identify the different types of energy in a given situation
Describe the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy
Describe the energy transfers and transformations taking place in a given situation (e.g. a level from Contraption Maker)
Improve Ability to communicate using the correct scientific terminology

Authorial credit

You are free to copy, communicate and adapt this lesson plan which was created by ACMI and Megan Pusey and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.