Painting with Pendulums

The grade threes are engaged in a transdisciplinary unit on simple machines.  In visual arts we have been looking at the complex, and not so simple, machines of Rube Goldberg.

 We looked at some of his drawings as well as the OK Go video This To Shall Pass. Their culminating task will be to design and build a Rube Goldberg-like machine that links up with other machines.  

After watching the video and looking at the drawings and then doing some drawing, I wanted to get students thinking about how machines could create art. We built 5 pendulums with paint bottles, artists' easels, and string. Students experimented with different weights and directions for setting the pendulum in motion. When they were ready, we set them in motion. It was very messy, but produced some wonderful results. 

Students experimented with how the length of strings and different weights affected the pendulums arc. Our next step in this unit of inquiry is to translate their knowledge of different machines and the excitement of pendulum painting into artistic creations that have a whimsical element, in much the way Goldberg's drawings did.