Gifted students invent usable machines _lowres

Photo provided by CAROLYN BANKSTON -- Joseph Fuchs, left, and Ethan Bergeron, right, are ready to test-pop a water balloon during a machine-building project created by gifted teacherCarolyn Bankstonat North Corbin Junior High.

Gifted students in Carolyn Bankston’s class at North Corbin Junior High School in Walker have been transforming lumber, PVC pipe, duct tape, cardboard, marbles and dominos into usable “machines.”

“After testing was behind us, I knew I had to keep my students motivated for a few more weeks,” Bankston said, adding that she first started the project about 10 years ago while working at Albany Upper. The idea was based on Rube Goldberg’s machines, which tasks students with building a multi-step machine or contraption that can accomplish a task, Bankston said.

“I knew the students would have a good time building and inventing, and all I had to do was figure out a way to tie this in with Common Core,” she said.

The students formed groups to design a blueprint of their working machine. They also had to write a multi-paragraph description of the machine, using sequential order and transition words. The project used all subjects by incorporating scientific principles and math functions. The students used numerous lessons, including that water flows downhill; that the angle of an inclined plane and the weight of an object has a bearing on the speed of the object traveling the plane; that in order for the object to move uphill, you need an outside force like a battery; and that if you have a cause, you’ll definitely have an effect, Bankston said.

“I enjoyed working with my friends on such a brain-triggering project,” said eighth-grader Megan Rush.

Some of the machines students created popped a balloon, knocked over bowling pins, rang a bell and made a “hole in one” in golf. Sixth-grader Brianna Day said, “We were not successful in making our frog jump in a boat.

“This project was fun and challenging,” said eighth-grader Marian Luzzier. “It taught me how to connect with my inner engineer.”