A belated Happy New Year, and an apology for a gap since the last post.  Just like everyone else, we in the Science department have been getting to grips with the latest national lockdown and the whole new way of working, setting lessons and giving feedback – something that I’m still not on top of, (there’s nothing new there.  It seems that some things won’t ever change whether the work is in a book or on a computer screen!).

Yesterday morning, as I was sitting planning a lesson and creating the resources to go with it, I had a thought – wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a machine to do all of this for me?  I would mean that I could spend more time doing things that I enjoy, (reading books, drinking cups of tea, baking) and less doing work.. I remembered that the cover of a textbook we used to use in Science had a crazy machine on it, so I had to go and find it.  We’ve not used it on a regular basis for quite a few years now, so it took me a while to dig it out and dust it off.  I was gripped by a touch of nostalgia as a I flicked through the pages, looking for something to help me in the lesson that I was creating, the I eagerly traced how the machine on the front cover was set up, how it worked and what it was made from.

That in turn made me think about a scene the Wallace and Gromit film The Wrong Trousers, where Wallace has a machine that gets him out of bed, dresses him and makes his breakfast

(you can watch it here: https://safeshare.tv/x/ss60113eb408da7)

Then I started thinking about a Honda advert that used to be on the TV around 2003 (that makes me feel old!), which used colliding parts from a dismantled Honda Accord to tilt a car off a seesaw and pull down a banner with the name of the car.  It might not sound like much, but it was mightily impressive!

(you can watch it here: https://safeshare.tv/x/ss601092d16e907)

Next, I started to wonder what this type of machine is called.  After a quick Google search, it turns out that it is named after American cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, who created a character called Professor Butts, an inventor who devised overly complicated machines, designed to carry out the most simple of tasks, but in the most hilarious and inefficient way possible.   That led me to find out more about Rube Goldberg – it turns out there is a website dedicated to him and his ideas and they even run a competition for invent a machine! My mind started wandering to all of the tasks that I could possibly invent a machine for: what I would want it to do, what I could use to achieve my desired outcome.

I’m really not very artistic, but I became engrossed in drawing sketches of my various ideas.  I had so many: a machine to turn the shower on and put the towel on the radiator for me before I got to the bathroom, a machine to do the dusting, a machine to put the washing in and set off the washing machine… the list was endless and my sketchbook was getting more and more full.

But then it was 4 o’clock, all activity had gone quiet on Teams and the emails had stopped for the day.  I realised that I had managed to spend the whole day being distracted by the idea of a machine that would do my work for me.  I really did wish, at that point, as I put my sketch pad away and settled down for another few hours worth of work, that a remote learning machine was available!

Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!