‘Rube Goldberg’ competition challenges students creativity

OGDEN — Hill Air Force Base and the Air Force Association hosted a daylong Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Dec. 4 at Weber State University. A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complex invention humorously designed to perform a simple task.

“This is pure imagination, putting in many steps to solve a problem,” said Jim Aadland, AFA representative and contest coordinator. “It’s scored on originality. The biggest thing is your machine has to start and finish without you doing anything to it.”

Teams comprised of local and international middle- and high-school students used science, technology, engineering and math skills to design machines capable of opening an umbrella. The machines were built using everyday items, ranging from toys to power drills and air compressors.

“This contest encourages teamwork, creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and all areas of engineering,” said Allison Sturgeon, STEM program manager at Hill AFB.

The international teams were from a middle and high school in China. Although they were limited in the items they could bring to the competition, they performed remarkably well according to Sturgeon.

The teams competed for trophies, pride and bragging rights. Several teams opened the umbrella, but one from each of the middle- and high-school division teams finished with the most points:  Team Hill in Division I and the NUAMES (Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science) Magical Nerdcakes in Division II.

The contest’s main goals were to encourage teamwork and creative thinking, but it also strengthened the relationship between Hill AFB and the local community.

“We love partnering with Hill Air Force Base STEM programs to bring exciting educational opportunities to our local school students,” said Dana Dellinger, director of WSU Center for Technology Outreach. “This is another excellent event that brings our schools, community and university together to benefit everyone.”

“This is my favorite STEM event of the year,” said Sturgeon. “It was so creative, so much teamwork and true problem solving. It was a fabulous event.”

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