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University of Illinois to host state championship Rube Goldberg contest

James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illinois State Championship Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for High Schools will be held in the Newmark Civil Engineering Building, 205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 9.

The contest pays homage to Goldberg, a satirical cartoonist best known for his designs of ridiculously complicated gadgets that performed the simplest tasks in whimsical, roundabout ways. Five high school teams will compete to be named the state’s best at building the zaniest machine to change batteries in a flashlight and turn it on.

“The contest challenges students to utilize odd pieces of equipment in creative ways to accomplish a simple task through an elaborate process,” said Megan Zachar, a U. of I. general engineering major and this year’s contest director. “The wackier the process the better.”

Each machine must use at least 20 steps to accomplish the task, Zachar said. More than 20 teams from Central and Southern Illinois high schools competed during the U. of I.’s Engineering Open House in March. The top teams from that competition will now face the top teams from the Chicago area.

The five high schools competing are Maine West High School, Des Plaines; Milford High School, Milford; Minooka Community High School, Minooka; Morgan Park Academy, Chicago; and Wilmington High School, Wilmington.

Argonne National Laboratory and the UI Engineering Council are sponsoring the contest. The winning team will receive the Argonne Science Award and a donation of $400 to the school’s science department.