Sometimes it is more fun to do things the hard way.
A group of sixth- and seventh-grade students from the Brooklyn Waldorf School in Bedford-Stuyvesant showed off their science projects on Friday, including a tornado vortex, a fog tsunami simulation, and several Rube Goldberg machines, elaborate contraptions that take many steps to accomplish simple tasks. An instructor said that making the devices is the perfect type of education for middle schoolers.
“These projects are exactly what children this age should be doing,” said teacher Giannina Zlatar. “This is real-life stuff, working with real materials.”
The kids made a variety of devices using whatever they could get their hands on.
A pair of sixth graders created a contraption that incorporated a marble, plumbing pipe, string, toy cars, blocks of wood, mousetraps, and a basketball to create a long chain of events that ended with the ball hitting a Staples-brand push-button that plays a recording saying, “That was easy.”
The undertaking required a lot of trial and error, a participant said.
“It was a very fun project and it taught me to have a lot more patience than I usually have,” said 12-year-old Luca Yang. “I had to try a lot of times to get it to work.”
Other projects that the kids showed off included a marble run, a camera obscura, and a machine that tests users’ heart rates after they listen to different kinds of music.
“Kids need to know what it is like to work with things and have to make changes and persevere,” said Vlatar. “Kids spend so much time on the computer these days that they think that everything is easy. They need to learn that they world does not work like that.”
Waldorf schools base their curricula around the teachings of early 20th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. They emphasize storytelling over textbooks, hands-on experimentation over science demonstrations, free-form play over sports, and music education — students at the Brooklyn Waldorf school learn to play recorders early, then switch to violins in third grade, according to a post by the New York City Private Schools Blog.