By: Sara Ensan & Melissa Li
When the dollar store is out of glue sticks and you have gone through more duct tape in one week than you have in your entire life, you know it’s Rube Goldberg season. On Friday, March 4th, 2016, the final round of the annual Rube Goldberg competition took place in Agincourt’s very own library.
Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, inventor, and engineer who was recognized for his eccentric contraptions that performed an overly complicated chain reaction to achieve a simple task. “Rube Goldberg” has also been listed as an adjective in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and it is defined as “accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.”
Every year, all grade 11 physics students are required to build a Rube Goldberg machine that consists of a minimum of eight energy transfers leading up to a simple goal. The students then present their machines in class and the two best machines from each physics class are chosen to move on to the library competition.
11 groups took part in this year’s competition, setting up and presenting their machines continuously throughout first and second period. Each machine was first judged, and then for the rest of the morning, other classes and guests were welcome to watch the contraptions at work. As always, expectations were high and stress levels were even higher.
The first place winners of Thursday’s competition were Ravindu Angammana, Aidan Ha, and Samantha Tam, with their machine, Galaxy to the End of Time. Their machine was inspired by the Messiaen Quartet and mimicked the Big Bang theory. Tim Choy, Stella Ng, and Nicole Wong, took second place with their Harry Potter themed machine, in which they levitated a white feather with the spell, “wingardium leviosa”. The third place winners were Brianna Leung, Fiona Wu, and Winny Yang, whose machine appealed to all who were craving a cupcake decorated by their machine. Whether or not your project made it to the library competition, congratulations to everyone who completed this challenging assignment.
For anyone planning on taking grade 11 physics, all of this year’s winners strongly advise that you carefully select your group members. Samantha Tam suggests that you find people you can work well with, while making sure that they’re dependable. Stella Ng recommends you choose members who are well rounded. A good team gives you the potential for building a machine that satisfies all of the judging categories, which includes components such as creativity, complexity, and consistency.
Future competitors should also be warned that time management and starting early are the keys to success. Starting early guarantees you enough extra time to focus on fixing up any rough patches, stability issues, and the overall presentation. Another thing to beware of is getting stuck on one aspect of the project. In order to be productive, it’s important to avoid getting caught up in spending too much time trying to perfect one energy transfer, and then having to rush the rest. It’s crucial that each part of your project works both separately and together as a whole.
This wonderful learning experience would not have been made possible without the careful planning of our wonderful grade 11 physics teachers: Ms. DeNoble, Mr. Prior, and Mrs. Randall. A special thanks also goes to all the judges for spending their time evaluating the projects. Thank you to Mr. Bullen, Mr. Fraser, and Mr. Harrop, as well as last year’s winners, Brandon Chau, Martin Fan, and Victor Trinh.
Each year, the standards for these projects are raised higher and higher. Good luck to future grade 11 physics students. If you haven’t already added physics to your timetable, like Samantha repeatedly exclaimed throughout the day, it’s not too late to “take physics!”