This festive season young people from our Future Starts course went on a mission to design and build a Christmas chain reaction circuit in one day.

Inspired by the Rube Goldberg Machine, pupils from Whitehill Secondary School put their skills to the test and created a wacky and wonderful design which has been turned into our Season’s Greetings video - share it on Twitter using #MissionMerryXmas.

The video was produced by Kevin Walls, founder of Sonorous Films, a Trust-supported business. A special thanks to our partners, Artronix, who kindly helped us deliver the session. 

Making the circuit

The challenge was to design and build an inventive Christmas contraption that the group could set up within one day. This was ambitious as it usually takes around five days to make a Rube Goldberg machine! It was all hands on deck with young people working on various STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) based workshops to create the chain reaction. 

The challenge encouraged critical thinking and problem solving in anon-traditional learning environment. Driving curiosity to make the team think how things really work, whilst having fun making it. 
Aziz Rasool, Artronix  

How we did it

The nature of a Rube Goldberg Machine is to perform a simple task in the most complex and ingenious way as possible. 

Young people constructed each part of the mechanism, including:
  • Soldering
  • Electronics
  • Robotics
  • Programming and code
  • Circuit bending 
  • Wearable technology 

The group also learned soft skills such as design thinking, confidence building, presentation skills and project planning.

People might think STEM is boring but this shows the fun side of it, people will have never seen a chain reaction before, it's totally different to what you would expect.
Liam, 20, participant

Want to find out more about Future Starts? 

The Christmas Circuit is just one example of the type of STEAM activity young people can undertake on our Future Starts course. 

The programme targets young people aged 15-18 who are still at school, but likely to leave within six months, achieving less than five National 5 qualifications and are unsure of their next steps.

Through a combination of industry taster days, work experience placements, and progression mentoring, the programme will  build young people's capacity to access further training and employment opportunities.

The programme is funded by The Wood Foundation and the Scottish Government.