Education App Spotlight: Contraption Maker


Education App Spotlight: Contraption Maker

by TeachThought Staff


    • Use Rube Goldberg machines to solve puzzles and create your own inventions
    • JavaScript mod capabilities
    • Teacher Dashboard to create student accounts and track progress
    • Curriculum available, including lessons for NGSS and Common Core standards

Other Details

    • Grade level range: Grade 3-10
    • Content areas: science & experimentation, physics, engineering, design, programming
    • The app is free for schools, after school programs and other educational initativies to use on institution-owned devices. (Read more.)
    • This game is a revival of The Incredible Machine, a popular educational game made in the 1990s. The original game designer and programmer are working on this project.

The Big Idea

Contraption Maker provides a set of puzzles that are reminiscent of Rube Goldberg cartoons. Children use hundreds of parts like hamster motors, balls, and conveyor belts to fix broken contraptions. Moving down our knowledge funnel, kids can create their own contraptions and share them with the world. It’s a digital sandbox that promotes creativity by experimenting with logical cause and effect consequences.

A key component of excelling in a STEM career is learning via experimentation, which often means testing an idea, failing, reviewing the idea, and trying a new idea. Traditional teaching methods don’t often have the latitude to encourage failure. However, experimentation and failure are key components in Contraption Maker. You learn by “failing” and testing new theories, and it is meant to be fun, not discouraging.

Related Apps

  • Minecraft
  • Casey’s Contraptions
  • Other building games

3 Ideas How It Might Be Used For Learning

  1. Learn about physics in Contraption Maker, then test out your theory in the real world.  Based on Next Generation Science Standards. (Read more.)
  2. Design complex machines based on a design objective.  Use your knowledge of simple machines and physics to create complex interactions. (Read more.)
  3. Blend language arts and science by having one student build a machine, write up a description of how it works, then have a partner build a machine based on your description.  Compare the two contraptions and discuss the similarities and differences. (Read more.)

System Requirements

  • Operating system, file size, etc.
  • Windows PC minimum specifications:
    • OS: Windows Vista
    • Processor: 1.7Ghz or Higher
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB VRAM, Pixel Shader 2.0 or higher
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
  • Mac minimum specifications:
    • OS: OS/X 10.7
    • Processor: 1.7Ghz or Higher
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB VRAM, Pixel Shader 2.0 or higher
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space

*The following app submission was prepared by Deborah Fike, Director of Educational Outreach for Spotkin. Spotkin is the developer behind Contraption Maker; Contraption Maker