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November 28, 2023

‘Rube Goldberg’ Has All the Right Moves

Step by whimsical step, Women in STEM members from the Academy of the Holy Angels Upper School used a marble to move a banner. Their original “Rube Goldberg” thrilled onlookers at a recent demonstration.


Marina Poire of Dumont, Charlize Glaser of Old Tappan, Rachelle Wu and Gabriella Ragucci of Harrington Park, Julianna Dail of Saddle River, Stephanie Chan of Closter, and Katelynn Lee of Cresskill developed their contraption from concept to completion. Their prompt was to create a complex machine to perform a simple task, à la Reuben “Rube” Goldberg, whose iconic depictions of amusing gadgets have captured people’s imaginations for more than a century.


Before the big moment, engineering teacher Jing Loo explained how she challenged her students to create their machine by carefully studying and employing a series of simple machines. The basic elements of the team’s Rube Goldberg included levers, a snaked tunnel, pulleys, two Ferris wheels, ramps, “dominoes” (cereal boxes), a funnel, and a zip line.


The project took approximately three months to complete.


Watch the video hereSTEMRubeGoldberg23


Student engineers spoke about the importance of creating a blueprint and a prototype. The prototype allowed the Angels to find problem areas and make revisions to their work, including the materials being used. In some cases, the materials they originally chose were too heavy, or were not the optimal size. As a group, the team noted the importance of advance planning, using proper measurements, and managing their time.

Marina, Charlize, Rachelle, Gabriella, Julianna, Stephanie, and Ms. Loo. Not pictured: Katelyn L.

“This is the first time this group worked together,” Ms. Loo shared. She explained that, while Stephanie Chan is the group’s leader, all of the members made significant contributions to the final product.


After the presentation, Ms. Loo explained that she had wanted to challenge her students to build a Rube Goldberg for several years, and finally shared the project with Women in STEM.


“This is a very good group,” she commented, adding that they worked diligently to understand the precise function of each element of their machine.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds. AHA’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.