ANDERSON – After showing a video of a Rube Goldberg machine that could turn a newspaper page, Dave Perrel carefully poured vinegar into an empty pop bottle and stretched a balloon containing a spoonful of baking soda over the opening.
The Anderson High School physics and engineering teacher then asked his audience of 15 students how they would get the vinegar and baking soda to mix. Impatiently, the students told him to dump the contents of the balloon into the bottle.
But Perrel wasn’t looking for the obvious.
“What if I pulled a string? Do you think that would work?” he asked. “What if I knocked that over on its side. Would that work?”
Leading an Anderson Science Olympics 2017 summer camp, Perrel coaxed students who just completed grades three to five, toward critical thinking by having them devise roundabout ways to complete simple tasks and build their own Rube Goldberg machines to do them.
The students spent three hours a day last week at the camp, one of several offered throughout the county this summer to encourage students to remain engaged with their science, technology, engineering and math education.
In addition to students from Anderson Community Schools, the Anderson Science Olympics attracted participants from Lapel, Pendleton and Liberty Christian schools.
The program, funded in part through a $1,000 grant from the Anderson Education Foundation, was a sneaky way to extend the students’ education into the summer, Perrel admitted. Students are introduced to everyday physics, learn a new vocabulary and start thinking about their career goals.
“When it’s a summer camp, it’s a different feel than their regular classroom work,” the 16-year ACS classroom veteran said. “We like to throw in the competition side of it to make it a fun game.”
In fact, Perrel and his co-leader Kraig Binkerd said, even…