Design Challenge: Incorporating Shape Memory Alloys into Rube Goldberg Devices
This lesson consists of two parts. In Part 1, students determine which of set of wires is a unique metal alloy called Nitinol. Nitinol is called a shape memory alloy (an SMA) because it can “remember” its original shape under certain conditions after being bent, twisted, or stretched out of shape. Part 2 of this activity will have students design a Rube Goldberg device which will perform a simple task that will be activated by Nitinol. The lesson is is designed to encourage students to compare and contrast science and technology; experimental design and industrial design; and physics and its impact on nanotechnology. The students will be able to analyze and reflect on the forces, motion and energy transformations that can be shown by a Rube Goldberg Device and to experience the impact that Nitinol wire has on the device.