Students create Goldberg machines
COLONY — It took a couple of minutes and plenty of science for Emily Frank and Erin Steedley to put the cherry on top — literally — of their science project.
The Crest High School students completed this week what can be best described as a Rube Goldberg project: that is, a series of complex machines to complete a relatively simple task in an overly convoluted way.
So how did their machine work?
It started by using a battery to heat up a piece of metal to the point that it burned through a string. Gravity pulled a small weight tied to the other end onto a small platform, which in turn pushed up a piece of wood.
The wood, tied to a bottle of water, forced the bottle to fall so that water would slowly drip down a tube into an empty pail.
As the water filled the pail, it in turn pushed down a third block of wood, which added pressure to a long strip of wood. As the pressure increased, the opposite end of the long strip pushed down onto a clothes pin. The cherry stem, pinched in the clothes pin, successfully was released and the fruit fell onto an ice cream sundae waiting below.
“It was quite a project,” admitted science instructor Toby Conrad, who uses Goldberg machines to illustrate a variety of scientific phenomena from chemical and mechanical reactions to simple laws of physics by using levers, fulcrums and such.
Each project was required to use at east two forms of energy. Frank’s and Steedley’s used electrical to start the process, then mechanical energy from there.
Each project also was required to have at least five energy transfers in order to receive an A, Conrad said.
“We had a lot of imaginative ideas,” he said. “The cherry topper definitely worked out the best.”
Conrad, in his third year of teaching science at Crest, said the Goldberg machines have become a popular teaching tool.
“The kids tend to get pretty excited once they hear about what we’re doing,” he said. “I think everybody had fun with it.”
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