Chain Reactions from Household Materials, Toys, and Tools: Presentation!

by  Playful Engineers

Program image

A Rube Goldberg-inspired romp into the world of building complicated chain reactions to accomplish simple tasks, from our own ordinary stuff.

Artist/engineer Jay Mankita demonstrates best engineering practices for building Rube Goldberg Machines – inspiring students to build in class or at home, from their own stuff.

Jay assembles and demonstrates his favorite machine parts live, and adds video examples of some of his more complex builds.

(this presentation does not include hands-on building time for students – that’s encouraged as a pre/post-session activities. In-session building time however, is a big part of Jay’s workshops and residencies, also listed here on CILC.)

Students interact with Jay through live Q&A throughout the session.

Session length is generally just under an hour, but flexible, and includes a virtual tour of Jay’s maker space, a presentation of student progress when applicable, pre-recorded video, and Jay’s entertaining, live demonstrations.

Content can easily be bundled into your curriculum, but…

This work is ALL about play – that’s where learning happens!

And this type of play reinforces: fundamentals of engineering practice, core disciplines of force and motion, and cross-cutting concepts of scale, and cause and effect.

And... enhanced confidence, willingness to persevere, appreciation of the value of failure, and the joy of scientific discovery through hands-on exploration!

Program Rating

   based on 4 evaluation(s).
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About This Program


By Request: $200.00
By Request Premium: $150.00

Fees are flexible based on group size, and desired length of program. Webinars are available for large groups. Shorter programs are $150/$100. Please inquire about access to the Playful Engineers video library as well.


30-60 minutes, flexible, and includes short videos (1 to 5 minutes) for pre-and-post session review.

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Parent, Adult Learners Home School Public Library: Library Patrons, Library Staff Homeschool

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:

There is no maximum. A virtual assembly type program is presented as a live webinar, and a more interactive, workshop is presented for smaller groups of classroom size or smaller.

Primary Disciplines

Gifted & Talented, Problem Solving, Sciences, Special Education, Special Needs, Technology/Information Science Engineering

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)
Google Hang Out
Microsoft TeamsFlipgrid, Nearpod, Seesaw, etc...

Booking Information

Very flexible, and willing to work with your schedule.

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Please notify cancellation request at least 24 hours before the program.

About This Provider

Content Provider logo


Playful Engineers

Amherst, MA
United States

As a teaching artist/engineer, maker/tinkerer, musician, recording artist, and educator, Jay Mankita has worked with kids and families for over 30 years. His workshops and presentations are experiential and inspiring. Jay is a life-long learner, with a passion for engineering, especially using repurposed toys and household objects. 

Jay has presented thousands of STEM related, hands-on programs since 2015. Jay is also a touring musician, a Parents' Choice Award winning recording artist, and a songwriter with songs that have traveled the world.

Jay Mankita

Program Details


Note: This program changes in shape, style, and content, based on the grade and size of the group, among other factors. This description is for a single visit, but if booked as a series, this would be the first workshop, giving a broad overview of what will be covered in more detail in the upcoming sessions.

1. The program begins with an introduction to Jay and a virtual tour of his maker space, through which Jay shares his passion for engineering, discovery and play.
2. We see a short video showing some very simple Rube Goldberg Machines, and then a very complex one.
3. Throughout Jay's presentation, participants are muted but may engage in chat. The teacher or co-host is encouraged to interrupt Jay at any time, with relevant comments and questions from the chat, so they may be addressed.
4. Jay demonstrates a number of chain reaction techniques using household objects, and common tools and toys.
5. In between demonstrations, questions and comments, Jay presents science and engineering content relevant to what is being seen, and content related to the engineering practice with a special focus on trial and error, growth mindset, and the value of learning from failure, as well as success.


The children will explore specific hands-on, thought-provoking, open-ended STEAM explorations through play.

2) To reinforce the fundamentals of engineering practice, the core discipline of force and motion, and the cross-cutting concepts of scale, and cause and effect.

3) To highlight the values of learning through trial and error, persistence, and reflective, formative assessment.

4) To help foster a flexible and equitable learning environment in which students and their families can engage in the virtual space individually, as well as together with their peers, teachers, and families.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Cause and effect K-2
Cause and effect 3-5
Cause and effect 6-8
Cause and effect 9-12
Scale, proportion, and quantity K-2
Scale, proportion, and quantity 3-5
Scale, proportion, and quantitiy 6-8
Systems and system models K-2
Systems and system models 3-5
Systems and system models 6-8
Energy and matter K-2
Energy and matter 3-5
Energy and matter 6-8
Structure and function K-2
Structure and function 6-8
Stability and change K-2
Stability and change 3-5
Stability and change 6-8
PS3A 3-5 -- Definitions of energy
PS3A 6-8 -- Definitions of energy
PS3B 3-5 -- Conservation of energy and energy transfer
PS3B 6-8 -- Conservation of energy and energy transfer
PS3C 3-5 -- Relationship between energy and forces
PS3C 6-8 -- Relationship between energy and forces
PS3C K-2 -- Relationship between energy and forces