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A lesson in positivity and perseverance: Kamehameha Schools Maui fourth grader Alex Kalama used his family’s pool table to build a Rube Goldberg machine for a science assignment on energy transfer.

KSM lesson on energy transfer sparks positive attitude in students

Apr. 5, 2021

A hair dryer, Nerf dart and duct tape are part of a creative contraption designed by a Kamehameha Schools Maui haumana for a science assignment on speed and energy.

“I’ve always been excited for engineering because I like to build a lot of stuff,” said fourth grader Alex Kalama.

Kumu Raina Grove challenged her students to construct and test Rube Goldberg machines which use a chain reaction to complete a simple task. She encouraged them to have a minimum of three to four energy transfers.

For his project, Kalama added some special features to his family’s pool table. The 10-year-old rolled a billiard ball down a cardboard ramp. The first ball hit a homemade spinner, sending a second billiard ball through a cardboard corridor with the help of a blow dryer.

The ball passed under the cardboard ramp and rolled through a hole cut in a tissue box before dropping into a cup placed on the floor. In order to accomplish the task, Kalama kept making adjustments after several unsuccessful attempts.

“I was very, very shocked that worked out,” he said. “I was really happy when it actually went in.”

Using educational technology tools available through Kamehameha’s online learning site KS Digital, Kalama and his classmates posted videos of their creations for Grove to review. 

“That’s what we want to see in our students – that perseverance and that positive attitude, and how they’re going to work through these different obstacles if something doesn’t work right the first time,” explained Grove. “He was so excited and that is such a great lesson for everyone. That positive energy, it really does rub off and make everyone excited that watches it!”

Under KSM’s hybrid learning model, Kalama splits his time between classes on campus and virtual learning.

“I definitely think it’s brought out his creativity,” said his mother, Cheyann. “Especially with this assignment, he had to go find things around the house that would work so it’s forced him to be creative and I think it’s forced him to be more self-disciplined.”

Kalama’s successful attempt lasted a mere four seconds, but the lessons learned will remain firmly rooted in the mind of this aspiring engineer.

“Always try your hardest no matter what and keep trying again,” said Kalama. “If that doesn’t work, try different ways in order to complete your challenge.”

That’s what we want to see in our students – that perseverance and that positive attitude, and how they’re going to work through these different obstacles if something doesn’t work right the first time.
KSM fourth grade Kumu Raina Grove


Kalama drew a blueprint for his Rube Goldberg machine that he created for a science assignment on energy transfer.


KS Maui fourth grader Kiani Aloy successfully tested a chain reaction machine that was designed to pop a balloon.



TAGS:
ks digital, ks maui, science

CATEGORIES:
Regions, Maui, Moloka'i and Lana'i, Maui Newsroom, KS Maui Home, Maui Elementary School, Newsroom, Campus Programs, Maui

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