Amend Rube Goldberg Project

The function of an outside project is to teach students concepts that they would not learn as effectively in a classroom. The Rube Goldberg project, as with any class assignment, must therefore be judged not by whether or not students learned, but by whether or not it was the most effective way for students to learn, over the time period required for completion. Though parts of the Rube Goldberg Project provide valuable learning experiences, they are concentrated in the initial thought process behind the design, and the final explanation of each step and its energy transfers. The majority of the work put into the project is involved in building, a process that can easily take more than 20 hours, especially for Physics 1A students. This entire portion of the project relies less upon principles of physics than trial and error, and can be enormously stressful, especially for students with little building experience. Though some principles of physics do become clearer as they are experimented with in the real world, so much time and energy is involved that the net project cannot be considered completely valuable. The Rube Goldberg Project, as well as the Solar Power Project, would be far more legitimate if taken out of the context of a Physics 1 class, which is often taken during junior year. 11th grade is the last full year students have to build a resume for post-high school life, and many students have extremely tight schedules, not to mention a full class schedule


Jess Brooks, Palo Alto High School Junior


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    Allison Coleman, United States

    7 years ago
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    Nicki Hwang, United States

    7 years ago
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    William Wagner, United States

    7 years ago Comments: As a class, we were completely unprepared for the task of building this project. Such manual labor ought to be confined to electives such as engineering tech, shop, etc. Personally, I feel that the time and effort my group members and I put into this project are not commensurate with the grade we received and the amount of physics knowledge gained. While I applaud your efforts to break up the monotony of finals week with a project, it is obvious to myself and other signers of this petition that the Rube Goldberg Machine project is a poor investment of our time and energy. I urge you to in the future to provide an alternative to this project in the form of a written final.
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