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Yorktown Students Build Rube Goldberg Machine

A Rube Goldberg machine built at Yorktown High School. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Students and teachers nervously watch the Rube Goldberg machine to see if it works. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Building a working Rube Goldberg machine is as hard as it looks.

Students in AP Physics at Yorktown High School attempted to build their own Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is an unnecessarily complicated device that does a simple task.

While the students were unable to get the machine to turn on a light and play music in a machine that begins from hitting an 8-ball into a corner pocket without human intervention, it made for a thrilling hour in Ralph Mazzio's class as they kept trying to work out the kinks. The room got hushed as the machine made its way through each step, with one student screaming in agony when a problem occurred near the finish line.

The students attempted to put together the machine in a couple of weeks, splitting the task into seven groups with five members in each group.

"It's been really cool," Nick Ragulo said. "Especially watching everything come together."

Andrew Fung said it was nerve wracking watching the Rube Goldberg machine attempt to go through all seven steps.

"If it all works, it's fantastic," Fung said. "If it doesn't work, it's a real bummer."

Mazzio said while he was a little disappointed the Rube Goldberg machine did not work but it's a good lesson for the kids to learn about engineering.

"You can imagine something happening perfectly, but in the real world that doesn't always happen," Mazzio said. "It's hard to get things to work, applications often have problem. A Rube Goldberg machine is very difficult."

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