One of my very first blog posts was about a Chain Reaction project which I carry out with Transition Year students.
The technical term for these things is actually Rube Goldberg machines.
A Rube Goldberg machine is an incredibly overengineered apparatus that performs a very simple task in very indirect and convoluted fashion (thus absurdly violating the principle of parsimony).
I like this too (also from wikipedia)
It has been argued that fissioning uranium to boil water under tremendous temperature and pressure renders nuclear power a Rube Goldberg machine.
One of these was featured recently on youtube:
I continue to believe that it’s a wonderful way for students to carry out project work, and I would certainly have no problem employing this guy as an engineer ahead of someone with similar qualilfications but higher grades.
There is even a Japanese Championship involving these contraptions.
Apparently learning can be fun after all . . .