On February 18, Lakehill fourth grade students gathered for the Invention Convention, a much anticipated event that tests students' ability to link simple machines together in order to perform a task. The annual event is inspired by the works of cartoonist and engineer Rube Goldberg.
Goldberg was fascinated by how humans seemed determined to make the simplest tasks unnecessarily complicated, and that is exactly what the fourth graders did as they set out to create the ridiculous, often hilariously complex machines.
After careful planning, students built their contraptions out of scavenged materials, such as school supplies, duct tape, and cardboard boxes. Many inventions solved common tasks, such as dispensing sprinkles on cupcakes, slicing a chocolate bar, or opening a book.
Inventions were judged on creativity, use of simple machines, and the ability to explain what steps in the invention required the most trial and error to perfect. If a particular mechanism failed to work as planned, students were given credit for the step if they could explain how they would adjust or replace the malfunctioning part in order to fix the machine. Students learned that plans and models must often be modified in order to achieve the desired result, and that inventors rarely get it right the first time.