The Power of Collaboration: Ethical Dilemmas as a Mechanism for Problem-Solving | Harbord & Khan | 5 Min Read

A mechanism is an ultimate example of collaboration “a system of parts working together in a machine; a piece of machinery” (Oxford Languages). Power within the system may be distributed unevenly, as evidenced by the term ‘the big wheel’. The nuts and bolts of it are that mechanisms have traditionally been purposefully constructed, to make our lives easier and more efficient, to solve problems. Hand in hand with purpose is another human motivating driver, our desire for entertainment and the fantastical.

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor born in the U.S. in 1883 and is best remembered for “Rube Goldberg Machines©” where a simple task is performed by a complex machine. Nowadays his name is synonymous with Rube Goldberg Machines©, which are made up of mechanisms and require novel thinking to solve a problem. This is an engrossing collaborative STEAM project for students of all ages. (If you are old enough to remember the game Mousetrap©, that was a Rube Goldberg Machine©. More recently they have been featured in music videos and advertisements for cars.) Making a Rube Goldberg Machine© takes collaboration as students need to work together to experiment with timing, weight, speed and…

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Harbord and Khan

Meredith Harbord EdD and Sara Riaz Khan are global educators who use ethical dilemmas to enrich and transform curriculum. Their student centric approach is driven by an ethical model and innovative tools that support critical thinking and creativity. Meredith and Sara’s collaboration as Design teachers at ABA Oman International School in Muscat, focused on sustainability, ethical design and global mindedness and inspired them to establish Harbord & Khan Educational Consultants. They develop units of work based on real world issues to engage and challenge students for diverse curriculums (IB, PBL, Common Core and Australian) and are available for professional development and to create programs to meet the specific needs of your school. Meredith and Sara have authored two teacher curriculum books ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 1, 2 & 3’ and ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 4 & 5’ (2020). Website: