STEM science, specifically Engineering Practice; Cause and Effect; Forces & Motion


Playful Engineers Online!

Rube Goldberg-inspired virtual workshops, assemblies, and residencies

with teaching artist Jay Mankita




K-2, 3-5, Middle school


Visual Arts


Science, The Arts


Single Virtual Assembly: $500 Two Virtual Assemblies: $750. Virtual Assemblies can be up to an hour, and can be whole school, divided by age range, or entertaining family night.

Virtual Building Workshops: $200 per session These workshops can be classroom size or smaller.

Residencies: $150 per workshop. Minimum of 4 workshops.

Dates Available


Program Theme

STEM science, specifically Engineering Practice; Cause and Effect; Force & Motion, Properties of Materials

Live Online Presentations

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 @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 – see next section for details.)

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

Jay works through Zoom, Google, Webex, or the platform of your choice. 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 of course, Jay’s 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 of course: enhanced confidence, willingness to persevere, appreciation of the value of failure, and the joy of scientific discovery through hands-on exploration!

Pre/Post session, students and families can freely access the tutorials and demonstration videos provided.

They gather their own toys and household materials for constructing their own chain reactions, at their own pace, and at their own level (of age, skill, patience, access to space/materials, etc…).

Sharing of progress videos is encouraged; classroom teachers can have students upload for inclusion in the group presentation.

Arrange for one of Jay’s hands-on workshops, or series! See details in the next section…

Workshops & Residencies

These workshops are interactive; each child chooses how hands-on they want it to be. Lots of opportunity for building and sharing throughout the session (although some children may benefit more from absorbing, and then building later on).

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) from class to class, though no two classes will ever be the same.

Each student can follow their most appropriate path, as I shape each class to best fit their needs and interests.

Some of my favorite techniques from toys & household materials:

  • 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

  • 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 CDs

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

I teach my methods through live demonstrations, and video examples, and I teach my methodology (keep simple parts simple, begin with the end in mind, etc…) through dialogue and repeated examples.

DIY means “do it yourself”, not “do it by yourself”, and my goal here is to foster opportunities to think aloud with others, and to help elicit a team feeling, even though each learner is building their own contraption.

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.

I strive to match my own pace with the needs of the group, but at the same time, there is definitely lots of room for quirky and atypical learners in my class; I am one myself!


(413) 627-3145


310 Montague Rd
Amherst, MA 01002

Associated Acts/Performances

Jay Mankita, is also a performing artist, and presents virtual classroom and assembly concerts.

More information at Jay’s other site,

Eat Like A Rainbow – a musical nutrition concert

Home Sweet Home – musical ecology concert

Playful Engineers Traveling MakerSpace (will be available again post-pandemic)


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