Eighteen sixth through eighth graders from the Widener Partnership School’s STEM Camp demonstrated Rube Goldberg machines they built to release helium balloons as part of the camp’s closing ceremony last Friday.
The ceremony was held at the University Center on Widener’s Chester main campus. For the past four years, the camp has had different themes, and this year they chose engineering, said camp Director Shanna Williams.
Ridley High School science teacher, Jess Dykes, explained the Rube Goldberg machine is a device meant to perform the simplest of tasks in the most complicated way.
The machine is named after Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Rube Goldberg. He is popular for his cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in intricate ways.
For instance, many of the students’ machines were activated by creating a chain reaction using marbles, dominoes, axles and wheels and a mousetrap to hold the inflated helium balloon in place and to eventually release it.
Once the dominoes were tipped, their chain reaction resulted in another reaction causing the marbles to fall into the mousetrap, releasing the balloon.
Students worked on the machines for 12 hours straight, Dykes said. When they eventually ran out of dominoes, they made their own from Lego blocks.
Most students worked in groups, such as seventh graders Khaliyah Campbell, Ryann Lewis and Khynal Blue. All machines had a slightly different appearance. Their machine was bigger and had more dominoes and marbles.