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Home > February 2018 > Chatting with Jennifer George about Kids and STEAM
Chatting with Jennifer George about Kids and STEAM
Posted: 2/15/2018 10:19:56 AM

Jennifer George
Jennifer George is the granddaughter of Rube Goldberg and the legacy director of Rube Goldberg Inc. During her tenure, Jennifer has grown the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests tenfold. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the competitions, which now include both online and live contests for students of all ages. She has also written several books related to (or inspired by) her grandfather, including The Art of Rube Goldberg and the best-selling illustrated children's book Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Humdrum School Day.

She’ll be joining us at Kids Week for the Rube Goldberg Speed Building Challenge and to talk about her book. Read our chat with her below!
Intrepid Museum: Congratulations on the 30th year of the Rube Goldberg Challenge! How did the competition get started?
Jennifer George: The competition itself actually started in the 1950s with two rival engineering fraternities at Purdue University. For four years competition was fast and furious until the students graduated at which point the competition ended. Many years later, in the late 80s, one of the fraternity houses was cleaning out their attic and found a long-forgotten Rube Goldberg Machine Contest trophy. They had no idea what it was, did some research, contacted the family and the rest is history!
Intrepid Museum: In the Speed Building Challenge, kids will have one hour to design and build their very own Rube Goldberg machine. What are the top three things that you think kids should get out of that challenge?
Jennifer George: There’s so much that's beneficial! The first thing that happens is that kids look up --not into a phone, not into an iPad, not into yet another piece of technology. Second thing is communication, teamwork. While brainstorming and building they actually have to talk to friends, cohorts, their parents, and teachers. The third is making science fun, figuring stuff out without a textbook, without a teacher, without a blackboard or a smartboard, and without a book. Those three things combined -- plus the added experience of learning through trial and error is what our competitions are about.
Intrepid Museum: What do you think are the next big careers in STEAM for young people today?
Jennifer George: I can’t say what the next big careers are for kids interested in STEAM today, but I can tell you that if your child is curious about how something works—whether it’s coding, building, writing or even how to make a joke funny—they’ll learn there's a logical chain reaction process that’s involved. At finals this year, we’re going to be exploring the “How does it work?” question with a series of lectures and panels. If you can engage kids at this first level of inquiry, you can set them on the way to figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
Intrepid Museum: What’s in store for you and Rube Goldberg Inc. this year?
Jennifer George: This March the traveling exhibition The Art of Rube Goldberg is opening in San Francisco at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It’s going to be there for four months and is anchoring the museum's centennial. My grandfather was a native San Franciscan and it feels like Rube Goldberg’s finally going back home. This October we have a children’s exhibit opening in Pittsburgh that we developed in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, a hands-on, tinkering kid-friendly show that incorporates the zeitgeist of Rube’s legacy and humor. It will be touring all around the country for the next ten years.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Rube Goldberg Inc. in the future! In the meantime, we’ll enjoy taking the Rube Goldberg Speed Building Challenge at Kids Week on February 22, 23 and 24. CLICK HERE TO THE SCHEDULE ❯



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