"Back to Basics" was designed and constructed by Matthew Ridley, Carmina de Guia and Ryan
Oaks, a Sweetwater High graduate.
They titled it "Back to Basics," but the compound machine designed by three Maryville College
students, including one from Sweetwater High, for a recent Rube
Goldberg Machine Contest was a fairly elaborate device.
But with Rube Goldberg, that's the
The students, enrolled in physics 201
sent marbles on a journey that involved planes, dominoes, funnels,
levers, pulleys and weights. The journey ended with the activation of
a small panel of LED lights.
"We spent about four days
constructing it," explained C. Ryan Oaks a sophomore mathematics
major from Sweetwater. "We're very happy with the results - happy that the lights worked."
Oaks' fellow teammates were J.
Matthew Ridley and Carmina de Guia. Four other teams of three
students built compound machines in Rube Goldberg style, completing
an assignment given to them by Maryville College physics instructor
The "Dancing with Wolves" machine,
assembled by Molley Welch Kayla Walker and Taylor Huskey
ultimately extinguished a fire. "Santa's Workshop," the
creation of Shawn Richards Erin Gray and Kendhyl Rodgers, lowered
Christmas presents, and video game character Mario falls to his "death" from the top of a flagpole in the "Super Goldberg
Brothers" machine built by Sean Yoder, W. Payne Fisher and Coty
Popping a balloon was the ultimate
objective for the "Classroom Fun" machine created by Nick Perone,
Joe Brooks and Dakota Jenkins.
"[The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest] is an incredibly useful exercise for students who are planning to
become engineers," Guerinot said. "It shows them the challenges
and pitfalls of working with machines."
Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer
Prize-winning cartoonist, sculptor and author. Despite his education
as an engineer, he became best known for the crazy mechanisms
illustrated in his cartoons.
"A Rube Goldberg contraption- an
elaborate set of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups and rods, put in
motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles and
live animals - takes a simple task and makes it extraordinarily
complicated," reads the official Rube Goldberg website.
The machine contest bearing his name
was first organized in 1949 by two engineering fraternities at Purdue
University. Today, students at colleges, universities and high
schools from around the country compete in the annual contest. An
international online contest for children ages 11 to 14 was launched
Past competitions have called for
inventions that assemble a hamburger, mark and cast an election
ballot, and sharpen a pencil.
Guerinot said this is the second year
she has required her Maryville College physics students to work
together to build a machine in Rube Goldberg style.
"I require that the finished projects
have a minimum of four simple machines, and six steps or stages," she explained. "And the machine has to work for a minimum of 10
seconds and maximum of five minutes."
In addition to putting their machine to
the test in the class, students are required to describe to their
peers and instructor the applicable physics concepts.
Oaks and his teammates posted equations
on their machine, signifying the concepts demonstrated along the way.
He said the "basics" in the name of
their machine referred to a few basic equations that are foundational
to understanding physics: potential and kinetic energy, transfer of
energy and gravitational force, for example.
"I like to build things, but I don't
generally like group work," Oaks said. "However, this assignment
was very fun. I enjoyed it."
Story courtesy of Maryville College