We usually think of efficiency as a good thing. Not so at the Rube Goldberg competition held Friday, April 26, at the Greenbush main campus, in which seven teams from three area middle schools competed to see who could create the most convoluted contraption to accomplish the simple task of feeding an imaginary pet.
Team "Mr. Froggy" from Fort Scott Middle School took top honors due to their fairy tale-themed project having the right mix of complexity, functionality and creativity. Team members included Joy Self, Maddi Cook, Macey Conor, Caroline Barnes, and Brodric Wright.
Sharon Bertolio, the science center educator who coordinated the event, said the competition is a great way to take the engineering fundamentals students learn in the classroom and bring them to life.
"This was a chance for them to express their creativity," Bertolio said. "A lot of them were talking about the simple machines that were involved, and the different parts they used, which is a good application of what they're learning in school. A Rube Goldberg machine might not be very practical, but it gives them a chance to use what they've learned to create something."
The rubric used to rate projects considered a number of factors, including machine design, complexity, performance, and teamwork. Groups were allowed to make minor adjustments and demonstrate their machines' functionality in repeat tests.
"There were some teams that had costumes and props and a little skit," Bertolio said. "Some kids might not be as mechanical but are more theatrical. That's where they really added to the group, which was awesome to see."
Schools represented at the competition included Fort Scott Middle School, Altamont Middle School, and Prairie View Middle School.
Click here to see a video of "Mr. Froggy" in action:
Look below for more pictures from the event: