Coding, Cardboard & Chain Reaction - WICO Summer 1.2

The second day of WICO camp we went deeper in explorations of programming and started messing around with circuits, switches and mechanisms in the process of building a collaborative Rube Goldberg machine.


We started off the day with a playful physical programming game where the campers gave instructions to the Sarahbot 3000™ to build a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While it was pretty silly, the insights that the campers identified after the activity about programming (it takes a long time, you have to be explicit in the steps and you can’t skip anything) all would com in handy during the day.


Campers then began exploring the Micro:bit which is the main programmable board that we will be using for the duration of the week. We started by noticing all the parts and then all together we loaded an example code to create an LED pattern on the display.


After snack we had some more time to explore making the different on board inputs (buttons, accelerometer and compass) to change the LED patterns.

Although we all started in a more guided activity, pretty soon we added extra materials, stories and ideas to the creations, widening the walls of the process to include many eyed creatures and a stunning queen of hearts.


Each day we head over to the Crissy Field for lunch and it was a beautiful day to enjoy the sunshine, run around and reset our brains for the afternoon activity.

After lunch we moved to working on a collaborative chain reaction machine (or in coding terms a device with multiple inputs and outputs). Each pair or trio worked on one section of the chain reaction machine.


The process of creating the rube goldberg machine took a lot of precise engineering and not unlike the programming practice that we worked on in the morning there was a lot of small adjustments to get the procedure just right!

Here’s the video of the final chain reaction! It worked amazingly well and more importantly represented a lot of hard work, iteration and collaboration. Over the next three days we’re going to continue working with similar materials to bring together the physical and the digital world.