Science Fest goes for the gusto

Posted: March 07, 2014

HOW MUCH fun is in store at the Philadelphia Science Festival? Lots, suggests the just-announced kick-off event - a Drexel University-steered project to create the ultimate, Guinness World Record Rube Goldberg Machine.

Uh, what's that?

Think mind-boggling thingamajig made with chutes and ladders, pipes and pulleys, fog-blowing this and generator-powered that, to be spread all over the floor of the 33rd Street Armory, in University City.

Happening April 25 through May 3, this fourth science fest is all about "inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers," shared Franklin Institute president and CEO Dennis Wint at yesterday's event.

There, 44 Drexel freshmen hovered around computer work stations showing off designs for the project, confident they'll obey the laws of physics - with a little help from sponsors like Dow Chemical, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Zoo and the city of Philadelphia.

Don't they know? The original Rube Goldberg, a cultural icon of the 1940s and '50s, created his overwrought inventions only in cartoon form!

To snatch the Guinness record now held by Purdue students, the Philly crew's contraption (also engaging Penn and Temple teams) must pull off 301 separate energy-creating, object-moving stunts, said Drexel electrical engineering professor Adam Fontecchio. "But we're aiming for 400. We don't want to just break the record, we want to smash it."


For more on the festival, go to philasciencefestival.org.

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