After devising winning ‘Rube Goldberg’ machine, Philly team off to national competition

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 Students and instructors from the winning team at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia look on while testing their device. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Students and instructors from the winning team at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia look on while testing their device. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Teams of high school engineers from around Philadelphia submitted “Rube Goldberg” machines that competed to successfully erase an chalkboard in the most complicated way possible over the weekend at Friends Central School in Wynnewood. 

The contraptions are named after a fanciful cartoonist who drew wildly complicated machines to perform very simply tasks.

The winning team from Father Judge High School is now eligible to compete against other Rube Goldberg machines from around the country in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

The winning students are all from Father Judge’s robotics club, where they normally make robots for competition. Their teacher, Michael Fiocco, said they take it seriously.

“This is not really a club. This is like a sports team,” said Fiocco, a physics teacher who started the robotics club six years ago. “The kids are going to have to make the commitment like they would make to play football or baseball, to come, to show up, to learn. That’s my plan going forward.”

Sending the club to Wisconsin is not cheap, even with the $1,000 purse from the weekend’s competition. Four area restaurateurs have donated a total of $2,500 to allow the teenagers to take their Rube Goldberg Machine to Waukeshaw.

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