STEM Forward’s Rube Goldberg Machine Contests Inspire Future Engineers

Meet some cool middle school students and see their unique machines.


See their quirky ideas come to life as middle school teams throughout Wisconsin compete to see who can build the most creative and functional machine that pops a balloon in eight or more steps during this year’s challenge.

WHO: STEM Forward, a Milwaukee non-profit, puts on the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests in Wisconsin. Our programs, events and activities inspire youth to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and provide a pipeline of talent to businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.

WHAT: Meet the middle students who put their creativity and engineering skills to the test to create a machine that pops a balloon in eight or more steps. View their machines and find out who will win the contest. Almost 40 teams, which is close to 200 students, are participating in each event for middle school students this year. (See list of participating schools.)

WHEN: STEM Forward is hosting two events for middle school students. The first contest will be on Friday, April 28. The second event will be on Friday, May 12. The best time to view machines is between 10 a.m. and noon. The winning teams will be announced at 1:30 p.m.


Friday, April 28                                                  Friday, May 12
Waukesha County Technical College                  MSOE’s Kern Center
800 Main St, Pewaukee, WI                              1245 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI
Building S                                                            

[Parking: Visitors can anywhere in WCTC’s parking lot near building S. Street parking is available at MSOE’s Kern Center.]

Winners of STEM Forward’s 2017 Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for High Schoolers

Twelve teams of high school students from around the state took part in STEM Forward’s Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for high school students on March 3, 2017.

Students competed to see who could make the most creative and complicated machine that applies a Band-aid in 20 or more steps at Waukesha County Technical College. The goal of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is to encourage critical thinking and problem solving in a non-traditional learning environment.

And the winners were:
1st place: Kimberly High School, Team Kitchen
2nd place: St. Catherine’s High School, Team Charlie Brown
3rd place: Kimberly High School, Team Barbershop

Kimberly High School’s Team Kitchen will go on to compete in the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on March 25, 2017 at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, OH.

The following teams received a special award at the regional competition:

Safety, sponsored by the WCTC: Kimberly High School (Team Kitchen)
Most Creative Use of Materials, sponsored by American Society of Civil Engineers – Southeastern Wisconsin Branch: Kimberly High School (Team Barbershop)
Best Design, sponsored by Marquette University College of Engineering: St. Catherine’s High School
Risk, sponsored by Collins Engineers: Janesville Craig High School
Best Presentation, sponsored by Milwaukee School of Engineering: Berlin High School
Best Construction, sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College: Pius XI Catholic High School
Best Technical Writing of Machine Steps, sponsored by Society of Women Engineers: Milwaukee Lutheran High School
Most Interesting Step, sponsored by STEM Forward: Waunakee Community High School
Peer Award, sponsored by Milwaukee Area Engineering and Technology Partnership: Waunakee Community High School

In case you missed it, view the slideshow of photos below from the event:

Applying a variety of STEM skills, teams of middle school students create complicated machines to perform a predetermined simple task.  These extraordinary machines typically reflect very diverse design solutions.  Problem solving, advanced manufacturing concepts, and the engineering design process (not to mention math and science) are all part of the educational experience.

STEM Forward is hosting three Rube Goldberg Machine Contests for southeastern Wisconsin students in 2017.

On Friday, March 3, STEM Forward is hosting the Wisconsin Regional High School Rube Goldberg Competition at WCTC in Pewaukee. Teams work together to build a complicated machine that can do a simple task. This year's challenge is to apply a Band-Aid in 20 or more steps.

On Friday, April 28, STEM Forward is hosting the competition for Waukesha County middle school students at WCTC. This year's challenge for middle school students is to pop a balloon in eight or more steps.

On Friday, May 12, STEM Forward is hosting the Milwaukee Rube Goldberg Middle School Competition at MSOE's Kern Center.

Is your school interested in participating? Contact Kelly Wesolowski, Program Manager, at 414.221.7722 or for more information.

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