February 7, 2012
Noel Struening starts his marble running on the Rube Goldberg machine he built to demonstrate the concept of energy transfer by raising a flag made from Legos.
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“OK, Chocolate Man, let’s see what you’ve got,” says physics teacher Andrew Fiala. High school students in Fiala’s class eagerly crowd around Jonathan Wisner’s machine. They can see it has enough chocolate for everyone in the class. Wisner starts the chocolate distribution machine by dropping a weight attached to a string that twirls a peg attached to a bar. At the end of the bar, an extra-large nut bangs into the piece of chocolate, knocking it down a chute and into the waiting hand of a classmate. Cheers erupt and hands reach out to get their piece of chocolate. “Good job!” says Fiala, “Generally, we think of a fulcrum moving side to side, but this acts as a wheel. You have five machines present and five energy transfers. Cool. You got extra credit.”