Rube Goldberg competitions

Ana Espinoza, Assistant News Editor

What do piñatas, pulley systems, and dominoes have in common? They can all be used to create Rube Goldberg machines.  On Feb. 19, Principles of Engineering students, organized into four groups, held a Rube Goldberg competition under the guidance of technology teacher Mr. Donald Schaefer.

Assistant Principal Dr. Brad Fitzgerald judged the competition, and top honors went to the machine dubbed “Schaefer’s Taco Lover.” The other three projects were entitled “Sugar Rush,” “Mario Brothers,” and “Hee Haw Donkees.”

“Of special mention is that esprit de corps I noticed in all the teams,” said Dr.  Fitzgerald.  “While certain ‘lead engineers’ seemed to emerge with a few teams, the larger mark was one of synergy, cooperation, and collegiality.”

Students were required to develop machines with a minimum of twenty steps, ending with a hammer hitting a nail.  Each team split up the work necessary for completing the task, and most teams designated sub-groups.  Designing, developing, and testing these machines took approximately three weeks.

“At first glance, one might think that the teams just put a bunch of junk together,” said Mr. Schaefer.  “However, a closer inspection indicates the reinforcement of the student science, technology, engineering and math classes, STEM.”

Students wrote down their thoughts about the project and suggested changes for next year’s competition.

“I had a lot of fun cooperating with my peers and it allowed me to be creative,” said junior Chris Seifert.  “I really enjoyed the hands-on portion of the project where we had to design and build the project from scratch.”

Despite the difficulties of working in teams, the project was generally successful.

“I really enjoyed this process as a whole,” said junior Astrid Phillipson.  “This project made me really strive to think creatively and out of the box.  It was fun to work with my group and talk about many of the ideas everyone else had.”

Rube Goldberg machines are deliberately over-engineered contraptions designed to accomplish a simple goal using everyday items, usually involving a chain reaction.  The machine was named after Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who was known for his wacky inventions.