Impact 52

Rube Goldberg, Students, and A Lot Of Sawdust


Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author.  He was well-known for his inventions that took simple tasks and made them unbelievably complex.  A Goldberg contraption often featured an elaborate set of gears, arms, springs, wheels, and rods that were put into motion by balls, a canary cage, pails of water, boots, and live animals.  If you have ever played the board game Mouse Trap, you have experienced a Rube Goldberg machine.  Pee Wee Herman used an elaborate Goldberg machine to prepare his breakfast in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”.  Don’t deny seeing that movie.  We all know it is an American classic.  You can look all around today and see inventions and contraptions that were inspired by Rube Goldberg.  His creations are very relevant.  So relevant that Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a Rube Goldberg machine and states Rube Goldberg as an adjective.

A Rube Goldberg example
A Rube Goldberg example

So why do you care?  Why am I giving you a history lesson on a Rube Goldberg machine?  The answer is simple……it was at the center of this week’s volunteer activity.  Each year, Woodside Middle School sixth grade students work together to create their very own contraptions.  This week I volunteered in the Rube Goldberg Project Warehouse.  Students came to the warehouse to get supplies for their inventions.  I, along with four other volunteer parents, fulfilled the orders.  Students needed paper towels tubes, nails,  and wood pieces, just to name a few.  I spent my time working the Miter Saw.  Each group of students needed wood cut to particular lengths with specific angles.  I will be the first to admit that I am not much of a carpenter nor a handy man.  I do not often get confused with the likes of Bob Vila.  Thankfully, I was proficient enough on the saw to complete the task.  It was great to see the excitement on the faces of the children.  It was obvious that they took this project very serious and they were enjoying every minute of the experience.  I enjoyed my time working with the other parents and giving some of my time to the school.

The saw used to fulfill Rube Goldberg orders
The saw used to fulfill Rube Goldberg orders

This week was another easy week in regards to the work completed.  I think the one thing that I want others to take away from this post is that we cannot forget our schools.  I believe that we all get caught up in life with work and family.  We find that special nonprofit organization or cause that we commit to and to which we devote a lot of our time.  That is great, don’t get me wrong.  There is no bigger nonprofit advocate than myself.  We must remember, however, to make time for our local schools.  The schools that our sons,daughters, nieces and nephews attend need us.  Teachers need our help.  We, once again, must do our part.  I encourage you to visit the websites of your local schools and find a way to get involved.

If you are looking for a fun way to get involved with young people, I recommend Rube Goldberg, middle school students, and a lot of sawdust!


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