It would only last 25 seconds, but for the gathered crowd of design enthusiasts, the fleeting moments of a machine cycling through a complex series of steps for the sole purpose of performing a simple and sometimes ridiculous task (cracking an egg- in honor of National Egg Month (January)) can be pure geek heaven. The machines are named after their inventor, engineer and cartoonist, the late Rube Goldberg.
The students in the Stephen F. Austin High School honors physics course recently learned about simple machines through this project. The project was to create a Rube Goldberg machine with at least 6 different simple machines that would crack an egg neatly. As part of the design parameters, each team was instructed to limit their design costs to what they had in their house, if possible, to construct a series of simple machines, such as wheels, pulleys, ramps, springs and levers. “Students were given the assignment about six weeks in advance so they could think about their steps.” said, Mr. Matt Wilson, physics teacher at AHS. “The greater the degree of complexity and uniqueness, the more points awarded to each team. Points were subtracted if a team member needed to intervene to keep the machine performing.” said Mr. Wilson.
Students in the class seemed to enjoy the project — although admitting it was a challenge.
“The creativity that comes through when they do these projects is absolutely amazing.” Ms Williams, another physics teacher at AHS said. “This project provides an alternate pathway to get kids excited about engineering. Rube Goldberg provides an exciting atmosphere for teaching STEM.”