An Adventure in FOS 4: The Rube Goldberg Machine

When senior Oren Steiner was in third grade, he went to a Rube Goldberg summer camp, unbeknownst to the fact that he would later apply his skills in school. A Rube Goldberg machine, named after the man who invented it, is various random pieces that are combined to have an end objective of doing an easy function. Recently, Courtney Kiley’s Community High F.O.S four class was recently assigned to build a one in a group, but there was a catch: it had to include six simple machines, and it had to complete a task.

One of the groups was Community High students Oren Steiner, Helen Januszewski, Emmett Werthmann, and Leah Davis. Their Rube Goldberg contraption began with a marble in a container at the top of a staircase. A screw was turned, pushing the marble down a steep incline of Hot Wheels track. From there, the marble hit a wooden wedge tied to a string that was placed between two towers of Izze cans. The wedge became airborne and hit a line of colored cube blocks which then hit a toy train. The toy train then caused a camera to take a picture. The final photo that was taken by the machine was made up of a stuffed mouse and three lego people.

When the class was assigned the project, Werthmann instantly had an idea. “I thought we were gonna use hot wheels track,” he said.

From a distance, the group’s creation was a mass of colorful objects. But up close, there was a lot going on, and it had to work perfectly.

Thus, making the contraption wasn’t easy; Werthmann said, “Most of the time we were like ‘this is not gonna work’.” In addition, Januszewski stated, “Around hour two and a half [to] three, I was having serious doubts and regrets.” Steiner explained what caused their uncertainty, “I think that conceptualizing it wasn’t as hard as actually, in practice building what we were thinking.” In total it took them about four hours to make their machine, and according to the group, duct tape was the key to their success. In fact, after the contraption was dismantled, a giant ball of duct tape sat on the counter they had used.

In considering what advice they would give to future builders, Davis said, “Have a plan before you just start duct taping stuff together.”

After the project was finished, the most of the group agreed that Oren had been their most valuable member. Werthmann stated of Steiner’s abilities, “we’re blessed.” Steiner responded to his group’s opinion saying jokingly, “I feel it’s deserved.” He continued with a serious tone saying, “I feel my group contributed as much as they could…I thought everyone contributed a lot actually.”

Overall, it seems that the students enjoyed their assignment. “Definitely I liked the freedom that you had in making the project. I guess we had some restrictions, but really we just got to let our creativity run wild and make something totally unexpected,” Januszewski said. Davis said of the project, “We’re really just here to have a good time. Yeah we wanna get a good grade, but like we really work well together and we make a great team.”