Rube Goldberg Machine Contest encourages 'solving problems in a fun way'

WAUKESHA -- More than 30 years after taking off, the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is still challenging young inventors.

"We wanted to incorporate everything you see at a carnival," said Noel Barwick, a senior at Pius XI Catholic High School.

Mike Sheils

Ten local high schools, including Pius XI, built complex machines with a comical, yet complicated twist.

"We have the iconic ticket booth, the Ferris wheel you always see on the horizon," said Barwick. "We've got the prize wheel where you got the jackpot, and spinning teacups, and the swinging boat ride."

Machines must fit into 300 cubic feet of space and run for no more than two minutes.

Rich Merkel

"Engineering isn't just about the nuts and bolts of calculations," said Rich Merkel, STEM Forward executive. "It's about solving problems in a fun way.

Each team spent several months on their design.

"This year, the theme is to place money in a piggy bank," said Mike Shiels, WCTC Applied Technologies Dean.

Crafting the contraptions is no easy feat. Students must accomplish the goal in at least 20 steps.

"They problem solve, trouble shoot, they work collaboratively," said Shiels. "All very valuable skills.

Industry professionals volunteer their time as judges to determine this year's first place invention.

"It makes it real. Real engineers are judging our projects," said Merkel.

The winning team, Piux XI High School, will advance to the national competition, taking place next month in Indiana. To learn more about the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, click HERE.