Sci-Tech Rube Goldberg Machines
By Devon Barker, Lead Robotics Instructor
Many times in engineering (and in life), things don’t work the first time. Over the past two days, the campers in the Robotics Workshop experienced that exact scenario. Their project was to create a large Rube Goldberg Machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone in order to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion using a series of chain reactions. In short, we pushed a cone off a desk using lots of robots to do so. For our machine, everyone was split into groups of two or three, and each group to create their own Rube Goldberg Machine with at least four steps. Each group’s machine must then activate another group’s machine; all the machines required campers to put their new robotics skills to use, of course.
There were many points where campers could have thought about throwing in the towel and could have asked for another challenge. However, this incredible group of future engineers did no such thing! Instead, they made small adjustment after small adjustment until at long last, it worked. The 5th and 6th grade campers had a total of four teams and a total of 16 steps. It took 23 takes until it worked, each take more painstaking than the last. The 7th-9th campers had eight teams and a total of 34 steps. It took 41 takes, and a ton of wasted video, until everything was just right. It took an incredible amount of savlanut (patience) to get the end goal, but they did it and they couldn’t be prouder of what they accomplished.
True greatness comes to those who give it their all, time after time. Each one of these campers has shown to each other and themselves that if you have savlanut, when the moment is just right, everything comes into fruition.