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Design Challenge: Incorporating Shape Memory Alloys into Rube Goldberg Devices

Rube Goldberg from Flckr
General Science
Physical Science
Education Level
High School
Middle School
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.
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