Tips Animation
Physics Pict.












Popper Pictures

Popper Stands


Popper Backboards


Simple Machines


Ball bearings



(Videos best viewed with Broadband Connection, W98 or better, & with Windows Media Player 7 or better)


Choose a Partner
 Don't wait until the last minute (November) to choose your partner.  It needs to be someone who doesn't live TOO FAR AWAY!
 Remember that parents have to provide the transportation and if your partner is on the other side of the county, then your parents will NOT be pleased!
Develop a PLAN!
In early October we'll choose partners and begin the design work for the project. There are lots of videos and still photographs, so you'll be able to see what students have done on the project in years past.
Collect Materials

balloonsIt wouldn't hurt for you to begin collecting items that you think might work -- toy parts, pulleys, a bit of lumber for the back board and feet, and ball bearings or marbles. Check out the guidelines to the right for ideas.


Gears, music, a mouse trap that sets off a parachuted toy figure -- these will all yield bonuses that add extra points to your project.

Test Your Project!

   saw horse
When you think you have it working perfectly -- pack it up, move it to a new  location, and see if it will STILL WORK!  Many, many times students bring their project to school only to be disappointed that it DOESN'T WORK the way they thought it would at home.  

A YouTube Playlist features all six videos of Balloon Popper projects created by 7th grade science students in February of 2007.


 Physics Balloon Popper Project
(Yes, you can work with a partner!)

NOTES:Research, design, and construct a chain reaction (domino effect) of simple  machines that will transport a marble through a series of tracks & simple machines from start to finish -- with  the final action (or somewhere along the way) setting off a sequence that will pop one or more balloons.  If time permits, after one unsuccessful attempt of transporting the marble, a second attempt will be allowed.  Remember that a series of connected inclined planes with no other device in between only counts as one machine.  (Small balloons blown up tightly pop more easily!)

YOUR GRADE:  You may end up spending a LOT of time on this project.  Your grade, however, is not based on the time you spend -- it is based on how productive you are!  Two grades will be given:  1) for the chain reaction machine and 2) for the poster.  Grades for the chain reaction machine will be determined by the number of different simple machines that successfully transport the marbl e, the creativity used, and whether the marble was able to pop the balloon at the end of its travel.

6 simple machines: = D grade
8 simple machines = C grade
10 simple machines  = B grade    (extra machines  = 3 points each)
12 or more machines = A grade    (extra balloons  = 3 points ea. up to 10; >10 = 1 pt. each)

PARTNERS:The Balloon Popper project may be done alone or with a partner.  The partners should live near each other and be responsible for doing 1/2 of the work.  Choose your partner well; sometimes your best friend would be your worst partner for a major project.  PARENTS should be aware of the partner choice AND give their approval since the partners will need to spend a lot of time together at someone’s house.  PARENTS should use their judgment and supervise the use of any power tools.  PARENTS should feel free to operate any power tool you feel is unsafe for your child’s use.  PARENTS, please remember that this is your child’s project, not yours!  Planning and assembly should be done strictly by your child.  Materials used should be those found around the house or purchased inexpensively at hobby shops.  No potentially dangerous materials will be allowed. (NO confetti, chemicals, water, sand, electricity, etc.)

POSTER:  The project will be accompanied by a labeled drawing (1/2 of a poster sheet) of the 1) parts,  2) identifying and listing the simple machines used, and 3) giving a step-by-step “cookbook” listing of the actions taken by the marble as it progresses through the machine.  This drawing will not be accepted without the partner(s) names.  Be neat, use a straight edge, make your lettering neat & readable, and print all writing.  (NOTE:  Use a word processor.  Its printing is neater than yours!)

1.  PARTNERS:  You may work alone or  with one partner.  You may work with someone from another science class period.

2.  DIMENSIONS:  No Larger Than -- 12” deep x  24” wide x 36” high.   All structures must be securely attached to the base by way of nails, glue, tape, staples, or screws so that when you bring it to school, the structure does not fall apart.  The idea here is to keep it small & compact.  Base must contain a 3”x 5” index card containing project makers’ names & class period. (NOTE:  25 points off if it is 12" or more too tall; 25 points off if it is 12" or more too wide; 25 points off if it is 12" or more too deep -- There simply is not enough room in the classroom for HUGE projects!)

3.  MATERIALS:  No hazardous materials allowed.  The project needs to be sturdy enough for repeated trials and to survive being transported to school on the due date.  Wood, heavy cardboard, and even stiff Styrofoam boards have been used successfully.  NOTE:  You may not build this structure totally from parts belonging to one toy set.  Project will be disallowed if 40%  or more of the working parts (ramps, funnels, paddle wheels, levers, etc.) are from  a single toy set. Double-side projects are OK. NOTE: You may NOT use electricity, battery power, solar power, chemicals, compressed gas, fire, water, or explosives.  All of the "power" in your balloon popper must come from gravity or the stored and potential energy of rubber bands or springs (as in a mouse trap).

4.  POSTER: 18” x 24” or (1/2 poster board size). NOTE:  Full-size posters will NOT be accepted!   Here is what you need to have on the poster:  1) Neatly lettered title; 2) A drawing of your apparatus showing all machines. Each machine must be labeled individually. Don't use a code system; 3) A list of all simple machines used in the correct order; 4) A section describing what happens in the proper sequence; 5) A note card on the bottom left or right giving the names of the students who built the popper & their class periods.

[a] For the Chain Reaction Balloon Popper:  6 simple machines = D; 8  = C; 10  = B; 12  = 93 ( A- ).  All projects MUST be able to successfully pop a balloon during the marble’s travel.  You get 2 free tries -- others subtract from your score ( - 8 for each additional try beyond 2 );   extra balloons popped = + 3 for balloons  # 2  - 10.  Beyond 10 balloons  = 1 point each. 

           1) Early Bird Bonus = 10 pts. if you bring in board + poster on Thursday, Feb. 19th
               2) Perfect Run = 25 pts. (machine works perfectly on 1st try)
               3) Gears = 10 pts. ( 1 set of two connected and fully functioning gears in your project)   
                       (extra gears = 5 pts. per set)
               4) All 6 Simple Machines = 10 pt. bonus if you include ALL 6 simple machines listed in pictures                        above. Vehicles = 2 axles (worth 6 points).
               5) Parachute Launch = 15 pts. (the movement of a marble or ball bearing can launch a toy figure up                       & away from your popper board that parachutes to the floor  (parachute must open!)
               6) Music = 10 pts. (the marble or ball bearing hits a bell or rings a chime,  causing                          MUSIC to be heard! (extra music = 5 pts. each; limit = 3)
               7) Pop Out Sign = 10 points (limit = 2) (-50 points for inappropriate message or theme)
                8) New Invention = 15 pt. bonus (if you invent something new that Mr. C. has never seen!)
                9) Take Home Bonus = 10 pts. If you take board home by specified deadline

[b] For the Poster: Based on layout & design, neatness, & completeness of information .   Ask to see examples from previous years if in doubt about format or layout. (Title, drawing with labeled machines, list of simple machines in the order in which they occur, step-by-step, partners' names)

6.  DEADLINE:  (November 16)  by 7:45 a.m. in Mr. Clauset’s room.  (No late projects will be accepted.  If absent on project due date, you must turn in your project the day you return.)  --- Bring LOTS of extra balloons & ball bearings or marbles! Remember that both your poster and the base of your project must display the project makers’ names & class period.  Run tests (5-10) on your project to see if it works the way you think it will.  Bring a checklist with you so that you can set it up properly.

The band, OK Go, has put together an incredible Rube Goldberg series of actions to the accompaniment of their hit song, "This Too Shall Pass."

The video is called, "This Too Shall Pass."

The Honda Accord video entitled "Cog" looks certain to become an advertising legend.

Six hundred and six takes it took, and if they had been forced to do a 607th it is probable, if not downright certain, that one of the film crew would have snapped and gone mad.

On the first 605 occasions something small, usually infuriatingly minute, went just slightly awry and the whole delicate arrangement was wrecked. A drop too much oil there, or here maybe one ball-bearing too many giving a fraction too much impetus to the movement. Whirr, creak, crash, the entire, card-house of consequences was a write-off and they had to start again.

Honda's latest television advertisement, a two-minute film called "Cog", is like a fine-lubricated line of dominoes. It begins with a transmission bearing which rolls into a synchro hub which in turn rolls into a gear wheel cog and plummets off a table on to a camshaft and pulley wheel. All the parts are from the 2005 Honda Accord - £16,495 to you, guv'nor, or £6 million if you want to pay for the advertising campaign. And what an amazing ad campaign it is, too.

The Honda "Cog" Commercial