LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Graduating senior year students at Passaic Valley High School had the opportunity to flex their physics muscles and take part in several offbeat demonstrations prior to the end of the school year.
The advanced placement physics students in Elena Shtraks' physics class proved themselves in taking on "Rube Goldberg Inventions," where they paid homage to Rube Goldberg, an American cartoonist, sculptor, engineer, and inventor.
Goldberg was best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform tasks in whimsical fashion. He received several honors throughout his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948.
The group of PV students, comprised of mostly seniors, developed challenging and zany contraptions that were complicated but designed to reach their intending goals.
According to Shtraks, it took four weeks for the students to plan and prepare for their demonstrations.
Shtraks had 17 students in the class and 10 student volunteers to help with these particular projects. Many students who took part in these projects are seniors who have free time to do them prior to graduation, based on their schedules.
Yelena Stuherck, who took part in one of the projects, said she and her fellow classmates enjoyed creating the machines, which are complicated ways of doing a simple task. Students came together to devise intricate paths in getting to an ultimate target.
"Our advanced placement physics class is divided into three groups," she said. "We try to build these machines while showing our knowledge. The projects incorporate physics, chemistry, engineering and art."
Students also gave themes to their contraptions as well. The first group's theme was the animated series, "Rick & Morty," where a ball "travels across the galaxy" through a series of obstacles before reaching its destination. The second group's theme was from the horror flick "Saw," where the goal of the contraption is to make a detached bloody makeshift foot ultimately kick a door open. Nintendo games was the third group's theme where Mario from Mario Bros. ultimately saves Princess Peach via a series of mechanical chain reactions.
"My students really put themselves into it," she added. "I think they find these projects are fun to do, especially when all they're waiting to do is graduate. They take part in one last assignment which is very enjoyable."
Michael Mongelli, also a graduating senior, commented on his project.
"It's a lot of work putting these together but it's great assignment for the end of your senior year," he said. "It's nice to work with your classmates one last time during high school."