Fourth-grader Sydney Anderson loves to build and use hands-on learning for her school projects and just for fun.

So creating a Rube Goldberg machine — a system using unrelated items to create a chain reaction to perform a simple task — at home for a recent assignment was a perfect fit.

Sydney has been in the gifted and talented program at Whitehouse ISD’s Brown Elementary since kindergarten, and she says she “kind of” enjoys learning.

For Sydney’s project that task was to get a soccer ball into the goal using items like dominoes, a toy car, candle, ramp and magnetic walls.

She lights the candle that causes one car to go down a ramp into the dominoes, and they fall into a small magnetic wall. The wall then falls into another car, which falls into one more wall. That final wall pushes into a soccer ball sitting on a playhouse slide in the family’s yard into the soccer goal.

“My favorite part was to light the candle that made the car go,” she said.

Her favorite time of the day in school is when she gets to go into her GT class time, where she and others build projects and write journals about what they’re learning.

Sydney loves building stuff, especially snap circuits, but she’s unsure of continuing to build as an adult because the projects “might fall on (her) head.”

At age 9, her goal is to work at a doggie hotel.

“I will sew up a dog bed,” she said. “I will make toys and a dog bed.”

In addition to building, she’s also interested in editing videos for her YouTube channel, Sydney’s Odysseys. She went the extra mile and created a video showcasing how she made the machine.

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In the video, after showing the end result, Sydney presented the number of attempts she made before the ball reached its rightful destination.

And while the process “felt like a really, really, really long time,” Sydney never gave up.

She said the experience taught her “that it doesn’t always work on the first time” and “not everything is going to work like you want it to.”

Her mom, Susan Anderson, recalled Sydney being the one encouraging everyone to continue as attempts failed.

“I was ready to quit, her daddy was ready to quit and she was like try, try, try,” Anderson said.

Sydney’s Odysseys — name inspired by the video game “Super Mario Odyssey” — is a place where she showcases family vacations, singing and playtime activities. She’s had the channel for about seven months.

She enjoys being creative during the video making and editing processes. Her favorite part is putting in the music, but she doesn’t really care for voiceover work.

Sydney said her teacher, classmates and other staff members liked her video and project.

“She gave me five punches in my card and you need 10 to get a prize,” Sydney said. “She really liked it. A lot of people at school watched it.”

Anderson believes Sydney would do well in a hands-on career as she has a love for science and building.

Anderson said the GT program and building projects are a great outlet for her daughter. She added the program gives the kids freedom to learn differently and hone in on certain areas.

“She’s always been the person thinking outside of the box,” Anderson said. “The GT program has been great for her.”


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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