Haitian Revolution – Metaphor Machine


For over 1 month, we have been working on a project called metaphor machines. It’s basically where we were assigned a revolution to metaphorically represent with a working machine, similar to a Rube Goldberg machine. Everything needs to embody something that happening in the revolution we chose. This is going to be a blog post about me reflecting on the whole month of working on this project.


We started with learning about a few revolutions, French, Russian, Meiji, American, Xinhai, Eastern Rising, and Haitian, which is what I chose. I chose to learn about this one because it has nothing to do with taxes or money, because I personally don’t it find interesting. I got put into a group with Melanie, Logan and Daniel, and we started brainstorming ideas.

After a few weeks of research, designing and planning, we started building. Here are a few documents that show all of the prep before physical creating and putting together.

Us working on our machine!
Our sketch of our metaphor machine9


We had to incorporate working circuits, and a steampunk aesthetic, (press here if your wondering what steam punk is) while representing our revolutions through metaphors. Each event in our machine meant something and connected to the events happening during the 1700, relating to the slaves revolt etc. I’m not going to go into depth about what each element means as I have a video to explain it!

Slaves in Haiti, 1700

This video was made by me, and had to include the Crane Brinton theory, explanations of what each event means, and a full run through of our machine. We included all of this besides the full run through, as our machine dosent work together. Everything individually worked, but together, no. We could have spent winter break fixing it but at this point I have learnt everything about the Haitian Revolution, theres no point.


Being honest, this was probably one of the most mentally draining projects I have ever done. Why? Well because the whole month was filled of this on repeat: something goes wrong, we fix it, something goes wrong, we fix it. This never ending cycle meant when we had something like the video to make, we couldn’t because there was always something to fix first. Then we were ready. Wait no that circuit isn’t working! Fixed. Oh, these marbles are getting stuck in this spot each run through, we need to fix this but we also have the video to make! That’s an example of why this was a mentally draining experience. Everyday there was a new issue, making me, my group and my teacher frustrated and feeling like we were getting no where in the project.

I personally don’t think the machine we made reflects the amount of time, hard work, creativity and even money we put into it. It’s good, but not great. We had to cut ourselves off this project, because it was far from the learning perspective of this project and more being satisfied with it being fully working. But, my group wasn’t going to let this get in front of us having a really good video and being able to reflect and learn from this experience. The video shows how educated we are on this subject, as we could fully break down the Haitian revolution without a script.

So what did I learn? I learnt, think about the possibilities of failing and succeeding before you create. Our biggest flaw in this whole project is having all the events in the machine start from the same place. The timing and everything to do with that choice made this project harder for us, and it’s the reasons we don’t have a Rube Goldberg machine.

Heres an example of a working Rube Goldberg machine.

Don’t spend so much time dwelling on little things, kill the perfectionist inside you. Yes that’s a bit intense but I did spend 2 hours painting sugar canes onto popsicle sticks…..

I painted about a extra 20 we didn’t use …

Split work evenly between group members. If this means making a chart or texting everyone what to do, having everyone doing something is very helpful.

I cant say the usual Luca excuse “Don’t procrastinate” as me and my group were always working hard in every minute we were given for this project.

I’m proud of my group for persevering  through this whole project, and I’m proud of our video. I might not be happy with the machine itself, but I’m personally happy with the amount of work I contributed, and how determined I was to create something good out of a mess.

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