Pewaukee STEM competition, student inventors 'nail' complicated task

More than 150 students on Friday competed to see whose machine could hit the nail on the head at the STEM Forward Contrapt Wisconsin competition. 

Sometimes, making a simple task complicated can be fun – and the competition in Pewaukee allowed students to use their STEM skills.

"There's a lot more that goes into it than just sitting on a desk, working on code," said Libby Fluckiger.

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Although she's only in seventh grade, Fluckiger already has plenty of hands-on experience working in STEM. She and her classmates have been putting the pieces of their project together since January. It was one of 33 machines put to the test Friday afternoon, all with the objective of making a simple task complicated.

"The goal is to pound in a nail, but they need to do so many mechanical movements to achieve that," said Tim Alft, Waukesha County Technical College associate dean of Automatics, Architecture and Apprenticeships.

Libby Fluckiger at STEM Forward Contrapt Wisconsin competition in Pewaukee

"With as many stem opportunities we have available, it's really critical to capture these students at a young age," Alft said.

Fluckiger believes more kids should try it, too: "I at first did not care at all about STEM, I wanted to go into teaching or dance or what ever else I wanted to do, but when I actually opened my eyes and gave it a shot I ended up really enjoying it."

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Aside from STEM, organizers said the competition also exposes kids to working as a team toward one shared goal.

"If there are fights in your team, just keep going, because you can definitely get over that," said Eris Weber, a Wheatland Center School sixth grader.