Team # 339: The Twinkling Teslas TEAM PAGE

East Ridge Middle School
Ridgefield, Connecticut, United States

Online Contest:
Open An Umbrella
Online Division I - Ages 11 - 14 (Middle School)
Team Leader: Christine Melagrano
Team Members: 4
Invitations: 0

What we're studying:
We are currently studying 8th grade curriculum in the town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. We all take Earth Science, and have already learned about the composition of the Earth's Crust, Interior, Atmosphere, and Oceans. Currently, we are studying the solar system and Earth's rotations. We have also covered Physical Science topics such as elements, and, more importantly to this project, the mechanics of simple machines.

Our Team Leader's favorite quote:
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science" - Albert Einstein

Why we think we should win:
We have worked tirelessly on this Rube Goldberg project. One of our members decided to skip a family vacation and stay home to work on it. We collaborate very well together, and spent seemingly endless hours tweaking the steps to work every time with 100% accuracy. We probably threw out over 10 steps which only worked some of the time. This process made our machine completely successful. When the machine was transported, it still worked perfectly the first time tested. Also, we spent extra time to think of the coolest steps we could. Who ever saw duct-tape rolls, transfer energy through rolling UP hill? And another... Who would have thought to levitate a ping pong ball with a hot air blow dryer as a working step to the machine? This was enough to win us first place out of the 20 other teams competing locally in our town. In total, we spent a hundred hours on this project. We didn't do it to win, but to learn and show others anything is possible when enough time is put to it.

Suggestion for next year's challenge:
For the next years challenge, the goal might be to unlock a smartphone. This has about the same difficulty level as opening an umbrella, but is more related to the modern generation. Kids these days all have cellphones, and would love to create a machine related to them. It would inspire hard work and persistence. Kids would encourage themselves to spend time doing the project, and in the process, they would learn they can do anything with patience and persistence.

Favorite Rube Goldberg video:

How to Open an Umbrella: A Tribute to Julie Andrews

Our Step List

1. Mary Poppins slides in on a figurative west wind (fishing wire zip line)
2. The Mary Poppins knocks over the duck-taped, red-colored block
3. The colored block knocks over the green domino
4. The multi-colored beads get dragged off the ledge of wood by the green domino
5. As the multi-colored beads fall down, they pull out a wooden dowel holding a golf ball in place
6. The golf ball is released, rolling down the orange ramp
7. The golf ball knocks over a spoon full of figurative sugar into a box labeled medicine ("A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down")
8. The box labeled medicine goes down on a pulley pulls up the edge of a wooden board
9. The green marble on the wooden board rolls down into a tube
10. The marble rolls through the tube and rolls into a weighted, multi-colored, roll of tape
11. The weighted tape rolls up hill and hits another tape, starting a chain reaction.
12. This last roll of weighted and colored tape falls off the incline plane onto a piece of wood that is on top of a serge protector/electronic switch
13. The switch turns on a fan and a hot air blow dryer
14. The blow dryer pushes up the ping pong ball
15. The fan blows the ping pong ball into a funnel
16. The ping pong ball falls into a lever
17. The lever knocks into a mousetrap, which jerks backward
18. The backward motion of the mouse trap pulls a string, releasing a ping pong ball
19. The ping pong ball moves through a pachinko machine
20. The ball falls into a lever
21. The lever knocks into a mouse trap, which jerks backward
22. The backward motion of the mouse trap pulls a string, which pulls a VCR movie case that is spiked on the edge
23. The falling spiked movie case pops a balloon that was supporting a wooden rod
24. The wooden rod falls onto the button of the umbrella, opening it

Our Close-ups: Photos

Our Close-ups: Favorite Step

Our Close-ups: Task Completion

Our Machine Explaination and Walkthrough

Our Machine Run Videos

Machine Run #1
Machine Run #2