Over the course of December and early January, we had several students grades 3-8 throughout the state (though mostly in Lexington) sign up to participate in our Rube Goldberg Event. On January 23rd, these students arrived at our high school in which they showcased their Rube Goldberg machines. One machine which impressed us in particular was a contraption which scored a ball into a goal — not only was the machine clever, with a variety of materials used, but a great deal of work had also gone in to making the Rube Goldberg look good or add “style points,” such as having a flag raise when the ball scores. The students had a blast sharing their Rube Goldberg machines. Several members from our build team were also there, and gave the students some feedback — all of which were positive. Afterwards, we gave the students a tour of our massive (60+ member) team. We introduced them to the various aspects of engineering ranging from hardware and software to the design process itself. A few members from the Outreach team discussed some points about industrial design, and emphasized how a big part of engineering is messing up and learning from mistakes — a skill which most of the kids had acquired during the process of building a Rube Goldberg machine. Finally, the kids got a chance to demo our robot! Our drivers showed them the controls, and they picked it up in almost no time at all.
We rarely invite people to come over during normal meetings, so this was a real treat for all those involved. Both the parents and the students gave us a lot of positive feedback, and asked about how they could get more involved in engineering in the community. One group of students — still in elementary school — started talking about how they wanted to build all of these cool engineering contraptions, such as a makeshift hovercraft, and asked us for advice. It was great to see the kids develop as engineers and grow so interested in such a field, and we hope to see them in the future!