Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Ridgefield, CT


The Ridgefield Education Foundation and Ridgefield Public Schools invite the community to attend the first Rube Goldberg Expo to be held on Thursday, April 24, from 6:00 – 7:30pm at East Ridge Middle School.


Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Rube Goldberg as “a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation.” Best known for his cartoons depicting multi-faceted contraptions to solve everyday actions, the original Rube Goldberg inspired scientists and engineers alike that brings us to this competition today. New this year, East Ridge Middle School and Scotts Ridge Middle School 8th grade students got to experience this unique way of learning. Under the guidance of Assistant Superintendent, Kim Beck, students used hands on activities to experience basics of physics and used the engineering design process to solve a problem. Scotts Ridge Middle School Science teacher, Beth Terhaar, explains, “Machines are generally designed to make tasks easier and/or in fewer steps. When designing a Rube Goldberg machine, students had to do the opposite. In doing so, they collaborated, planned, shared ideas, designed, experimented, redesigned and communicated with each other. They were all in it together to solve their problem: to dispense 30.0mL of water into a 3 oz. paper cup in no fewer than 4 movable stations.”


How did students react to the project? Dillon Hammer, 8th grade Scotts Ridge Middle School student, reports, “I like this kind of learning because you can experiment and there’s lots of options. There’s not just 1 correct answer; everyones is different. Looking at others projects is really interesting. Yours is unique and so is everyone else’s.” This learning will be applied at the Rube Goldberg Expo on April 24th. “Watching the students in their classrooms with the new engineering lab experience was exciting. The student’s enthusiasm was palpable as they cheered each other on and refined their designs. These are key skills necessary in the future of science and engineering. I look forward to seeing their innovations” states REF Event Chairperson Christine Rodriguez. The public is welcome to see how the 25 teams of 8th graders have solved the task “How to Zip a Zipper” in ten steps or more.


The Ridgefield Education Foundation looks to support initiatives that focus on 21st century learning with creativity, innovation and collaboration. By serving as a catalyst for innovative programs, leveraging the use of technology and enhancing the resources available to educators, REF hopes to help move education forward. The Ridgefield Education Foundation is a 501c3 not for profit organization. Donations are considered tax deductible. The foundation always welcomes new team members!


Photo: Students of Mrs. Terhaar’s 8th Grade Scotts Ridge Middle School Science class using manipulatives to develop machines.


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