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Rube Goldberg contest challenges Wisconsin students to “Turn Off A Light” with a complex machine

Discovery World hosted the 2020 Wisconsin High School Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on March 6, highlighting the engineering and creative skills of students for building a complex machine to turn off a light.

A Rube Goldberg Machine is an outlandish contraption that accomplishes a simple task in the most complicated and comical way possible. The contest started in 1988, based on the “invention” cartoons of the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Rube Goldberg.

Organized by STEM Forward, metro Milwaukee’s leading STEM education and outreach provider, the competition was created to help inspire local youth to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers and provide a pipeline of talent to businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.

Each year a new challenge is determined and high school students scrounge for everyday items they can use to put together their machines, in an effort to perform the specified function and tell a creative story. This year’s high school challenge was to “turn off a light” in 20 or more steps. The completed machine was required to fit in an overall space of 10’ x 10’ x 8’ square area and run for no more than three minutes.

Approximately 150 high school students and instructors on ten teams from high schools throughout Wisconsin will compete and display their machines during the 2020 tournament. The challenge allows students to present their imaginative machines in a competitive forum. It also encourages students to apply a variety of skills outside of STEM basics, like problem-solving, advanced manufacturing, creative concepts, and the design process.

Pius XI High School was the 1st place regional winner in 2019, and for 2020 the team placed 2nd. The team also earned a Risk Award and Best Presentation Award. Chatfield High School from Minnesota won top honors with 1st place for their Christmas themed machine. They now advance to the nationals in April.

The other eight schools that participated at the Discovery World regional round included Bay View High School Benton High School, Kiel High School, Kimberly High School, Loyal High School, St. Catherine’s High School – Racine, Waunakee High School, and Waupaca High School.

Video Segment: Competition Highlights

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