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SAS IB Students Take on Rube Goldberg Machines

December, 2012
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Reconstructed Rube Goldberg machines provided an engaging challenge for Shanghai American School (SAS) Pudong campus high school students. The IB year 2 students from different science disciplines in the high school worked together on topics related to a common theme.

“The emphasis was more on interdisciplinary collaboration and the process involved, rather than the outcome. This year’s theme related to constructing Rube Goldberg machines, along with the problem solving skills and collaboration required to complete the task. Students did this while keeping in mind the “green” theme, using only recycled or repurposed materials in the machine’s construction,” explained SAS Pudong campus high school science teacher Coke Smith.

“Although our project wasn’t completely successful, I think that we worked well as a team. There were some bumpy paths, but there was no lashing out or yelling. We simply brainstormed and fixed the problem,” said senior Laura Grenon.

Summarizing the experience, Smith reiterated, “There was a great sense of teamwork and collegiality among all of our students, even though not all of the machines were entirely successful. Students encountered many hurdles during the project, but worked together to find solutions for the various issues they faced, which is really what the Group 4 project was all about. As a teacher, I truly enjoyed taking a step back and simply watching these young adults handle complex situations with true collaboration and critical thinking.” 


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