Using Skype in the Classroom to Connect with Rube Goldberg’s Granddaughter

jennifer george (4)Second grade has been studying force and motion as a part of their science standards.  We kicked off this unit in the library by learning about the inventions of Rube Goldberg and exploring the Rube Works app for iPad.

In class, students explored force and motion through a Picture Perfect Science lesson about roller coasters.  During this exploration, they learned key vocabulary and concepts for force and motion.  After exploring, they learned even more about force and motion through informational text.  Finally, students worked in collaborative groups to build their own Rube Goldberg invention.  During this process, students were able to apply many of the concepts and vocabulary that they learned through the other experiences.  I loved peering into their classrooms from time to time to watch them try to get their inventions to work.  I loved how they tried something, failed, and then tried again.  This is something we’ve had a lot of conversations about.

Today, thanks to Skype in the Classroom, students had the chance to Skype with Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter, Jennifer George.  If you haven’t taken a look at Skype in the Classroom, you should!  Teachers and guest speakers can post topics or lessons and classrooms can sign up to participate in those lessons.  Once you sign up, you go through a process of communicating with the creator of the lesson or topics in order to schedule your Skype connection.  Also, educators get a free Skype premium account for signing up.

Rube Goldberg   Skype in the classroom

Our connection lasted from about 40 minutes.  During our time, Jennifer George shared some Rube Goldberg facts that only a granddaughter would know.  For example:

  • he wore shoes when he went swimming
  • he was always on time
  • he ate whip cream for dessert and when cool whip came out he ate it by the bowl
  • when he got his 1st car, there were only 12 cars in New York City

She talked about how Rube Goldberg never built the inventions that he drew, but many people have taken his drawings and built the machines or designed their own.  I loved how this fact fit in with our collaborative project and how each member of the team brings something different.

jennifer george (6)

We also loved meeting Jennifer’s cat.  The students couldn’t contain their excitement when the cat jumped up behind her on the counter.  Jennifer gave us a close up view of him.

jennifer george (12)

After Jennifer gave us some facts, she spent some time letting students ask questions.  They love to do this.  I loved how she listened to each student’s name and repeated it in her response.  It made the conversation connected and personal.

It was during these questions that we learned things like:

  • Rube Goldberg created over 50,000 cartoons
  • He started drawing when he was about the age of our 2nd graders
  • Jennifer is a fashion designer who has designed clothing for several big celebrities like Madonna and Aretha Franklin

The students really wanted to see some of Rube Goldberg’s drawings, but thankfully thankfully many of them are available in a new book called The Art of Rube Goldberg.  I think that students are going to be demanding that we get this book in our library.  Thank you Jennifer George for sharing the stories and inventions of your grandfather with us.   Thanks Skype in the Classroom for this fun time.  

You can learn more about Rube Goldberg at

jennifer george (10)

We have another Skype in the Classroom connection coming up soon with David Fox, developer of the Rube Works app that we have been playing.  We can’t wait!

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