STEM

Students Vie To Over-Engineer in 2015 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

Auburn High Schools winning entry from 2014

New Auburn High School's winning entry from 2014

According to coverage in the Chippewa Herald, the winning team used a temperature gauge, pump, crow, eyeball, bones, electrical switches and a giant Frankenstein, along with multiple other accessories, all as the most elaborate scheme possible for zipping up a zipper. New Auburn High School students came up with the overly engineered concoction, shown in this YouTube video, thereby winning the 2014 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for high schools.

A Rube Goldberg Machine is an overly complex contraption, designed with humor and a narrative, to accomplish a simple task. The contest is inspired by the whimsical designs of Pulitzer-winning cartoonist and former engineer Reuben "Rube" Goldberg, whose trademark illustrations took simple tasks and made them superbly complicated.

This year's competition, which also includes a track for middle school students, asks participants for the most "overly complex contraption" for erasing a chalkboard or a whiteboard. Teams and their machines will be judged on "absurd complexity, reliability, team chemistry, creativity, humor and story-telling" as well as the completion of the task at hand. Entries must follow at least 20 steps and include no more than 75 steps. (The middle school division requires at least 10 steps and no more than 75.)

Teams that win a regional contest go onto the "finals." Those events are taking place in multiple locations around the country. The national competition takes place on April 18 at the Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin.

The same competition also includes a college division.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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