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RHS class makes it harder than it has to be

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff

RIFLE – Funny-looking useless inventions snaked across the Rifle High School gym floor recently to the delight of a bleacher full of onlookers.RHS students in David Ziegler’s physics classes had to invent complex machines to do relatively simple tasks to demonstrate their physics knowledge and skills for their final test of the year. Ziegler named the final the Rube Goldberg Project.Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, famous for one-panel drawings of overly complicated contraptions designed to do utterly uncomplicated things.”The cat would be lying on the ground,” explained Ziegler. “The sun would wake him up, and he’d run across the room, pull a string, a bucket would fill with water and it would dump water on the guy in bed to wake him up – that kind of thing.”That’s the kind of thing 48 physics students teamed up to awe an audience with. Each of the 11 machines had to connect. They all had to begin with a mousetrap and end with a moving miniature car so each machine’s car would hit the next team’s mousetrap, causing each contraption to go off in succession like a row of dominoes. Tuesday night’s demonstration was the biggest showing Ziegler’s ever had. Last year, students made eight machines.”Hopefully, if we keep getting more physics students, we’ll have enough to cover the entire gym,” Ziegler said.Students worked together to manufacture the contraptions during the last month of classes.”It was a huge project,” said junior Eva Cannon. “It was so, so hard.”Cannon said she met with her four other group members frequently. The motto for their project, which had to be written in a foreign language, was “El Edificio una Major Ratonera,” in Spanish or “Building a Better Mousetrap,” in English.Other group mottos in Portuguese, German, French and Russian, included sayings like, “Great Balls of Fire,” “For Everything Else, There’s Mastercard,” “Experience the Rainbow,” and “Redneck Rollercoaster.”The Redneck Rollercoaster won the award for best of show. It was the last in line and the tallest of the contraptions. It was also lit up with flames for most of its turn.The design for the Experience the Rainbow contraption was inspired by Skittles candies. “We glued each Skittle down by hand,” said senior Alexa Williams. All five of the students in Williams’ group were seniors, most of whom planned to continue studying science in college.Travis Jensen, in the Skittles group, said getting all of the components to act together was complicated. All of the students expressed their frustration with the electronic component, which made a funny whirring sound.”We couldn’t get it to work,” Jensen said. “It broke and we had to get a new one. Our dinosaur moonwalks because we put his legs on wrong. It was hard.”


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