Maker Space Build-Along: Chain Reactions!

by  Playful Engineers

Program image

Teaching Artist/Engineer Jay Mankita demonstrates best practices for building chain reactions, while the kids build their own. These workshops are play-based, and interactive; each child chooses how hands-on they want it to be, as the sessions are process, not product-oriented.

Force, Friction, Momentum, Simple Machines, Cause & Effect, and Scale, are some of the relevant engineering concepts we explore by building and playing with various chain reaction techniques.

A relatively small set of common-sense physics principles applies to many materials and methods – so there’ll be plenty of repetition (of techniques and concepts).

Students come to the class with different sets of gifts and challenges, skills and experience, and differing abilities. So there are no specific milestones that any one learner has to meet in order for anyone, or everyone else, to progress.

There is lots of room for quirky and atypical learners in these sessions, and it is not unusual to see 100% engagement in these workshops.

Program Rating

   based on 10 evaluation(s).
Book it!

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.


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. Each workshop can be presented as a virtual assembly type program in the form of 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.

1. If students have already seen Jay's presentation program , we jump right in to building. Otherwise, we begin 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. Each class features several of Jay's favorite techniques from toys & household materials. Students will have already gathered materials, and may have begun building from the pre-session activity resources provided. Some examples are:

Booktop Ball Runs made from hardcover books

Track Feeders from hot-wheels tracks, hand-made cardboard tracks, rubber bands, and pencils

Rolling Cones from drinking cups, tinker toys, or fruits and vegetables

Carousels from cans, pencils, pens, rubber bands, and popsicle sticks

Catapults from plastic spoons

Tetherballs from broomsticks, mop handles, or standing lamps

Ball Bounces from ping-pong balls, or rubber balls

Tube-Tape Wobbles”from the inside of a scotch-tape roll, and half a cardboard tube

Domino Rallies from dominoes of course, or books, or playing cards, or CD cases,

Mini Zip-Lines from string, key-rings, and action figures, and many others.

Kids build at their own pace, and according to their own abilities.


Learning Objective #1:
Students will be able to make their own working models of kinetic machine parts using readily available toys & repurposed household objects, and will identify and explain basic principles of force and motion that are expressed through these objects.

Learning Objective #2:
Students will connect art and engineering, through hands-on play, & exploration of tools and techniques in the designing, building, and testing of overcomplicated Rube Goldberg Machines, experiencing formative assessment in a fun, fulfilling way.

Learning Objective #3
Students will experience and generalize the engineering values of learning through trial and error, addressing problems from different perspectives, cooperative teamwork, and basic systems thinking; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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