My Rube Goldberg Nightmare

It wasn’t just like a Rube Goldberg project, it was a Rube Goldberg project and when I found out about it, it was due the next day. Today. For Science class.

I received an email yesterday from my daughter’s Science teacher, saying “Tonya” (sic) didn’t turn in her project last Friday.” But, she’d been given an extension until Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, and time to work on the project in class, with her partner. But, if she didn’t turn it in today, Friday, she wouldn’t get any credit at all.

When I went to the Science class website, my first thought was, “Funny, I don’t remember seeing this page before,” and we follow-up often on Tanya’s homework assignments. “And isn’t her Science teacher named ‘Johnson’?” Then I saw it. It was the Rube Goldberg Project assignment.

Design a machine to complete a task around the house. This sounded hard, especially for me, the woman who can’t even get my dog to bring me my slippers.

You  and  your  group  must  come  up  with  an  invention  that  includes:  

 2  ramps 

1  fixed  pulley  

1  movable  pulley  

2  levers  

At  least  ten  steps  to  complete

This was around ten am yesterday. Perhaps you heard me screaming? How the hell were we going to pull this off? In one night? 2 ramps. 2 levers.

I sent an email back to the teacher. I knew I had to be careful, because I’d just returned from a trip the previous night and was still international crazy. I told her this was the first I’d heard of the project and thank you for calling it to our attention and that I’d hoped we could get it done in one night.

Then I called my husband in a panic. Furious.

Why did this teacher wait to the last possible minute to tell us? How come her assignment web page just all of a sudden mysteriously appeared? What did I expect from a teacher who couldn’t even spell my daughter’s name correctly? And where the heck was I going to get one fixed and one moveable pulley?

“We might still have some Tinker Toys in the attic.”

After I slammed the phone down on my husband, who I know was sniggering because it was my homework night, I paced around my house in a tizzy. Angry with my daughter. Angry with the teacher, the school, with life, the universe and everything. A real live actual Rube Goldberg Project due the next day. This is the kind of thing that still gives me that nightmare, you know the one: you signed up for the class in college and never went and now the final is tomorrow.

Then I do what I always do when I want to avoid doing something productive. I check my email. There was a new one, from the science teacher. It said, “I accidentally copied the wrong Tanya's contact information in my spreadsheet… so she is not missing work from me.”

I wrote her back immediately. One word. “Whew.”


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