Edison Lab and the Rube Goldberg Challenge

Edison Lab is an elective for Middle School students at Covenant, designed to give them more time to work collaboratively while engaged in the engineering design process. This semester, the theme for this class is “Energy and Technology.” What better way to think about energy and complicated machinations than by building a Rube Goldberg contraption?
So what exactly is a Rube Goldberg machine? Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, engineer, inventor, and personality known for dreaming up fantastically complicated machinery. His crazy and convoluted inventions featured heavily in his well-known comic strip, The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, from 1914 to 1964. Rube Goldberg machines were seen often in popular culture, influencing TV shows, movies, and even board games (remember Mouse Trap?).

The Rube Goldberg company, as well as many others, now holds annual machine-building competitions in which students across the country participate. At Covenant, students worked in pairs and were given the same materials. They were instructed that their machine had to end with a “pop” (they were given a small popper that had to go off) and that was it! The rest was up to them. They presented their contraptions to the class and had three attempts for it to be successful.

The students used their creativity in the design process, collaborated effectively, and (we think) would have made Mr. Goldberg very proud. 

The Covenant School

Birdwood Campus | Lower School | Pre-K–Grade 5 |
1000 Birdwood Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 | 434.220.7309

Hickory Campus | Middle and Upper School | Grades 6–12 | 175 Hickory Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 | 434.220.7329
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.