Erasing a blackboard should be easy, right? Not if you’re taking part in UConn’s 2015 Rube Goldberg Regional Competition.
In that case, the prize goes to whoever devises the most complex, crazy, creative and outrageous way of swiping the blackboard. Last week, that honor went to H.H. Ellis Technical High School from Danielson, CT, which took first place in the contest.
Hosted by UConn’s Engineering Ambassadors, the contest is named for the illustrator famous for his wacky illustrations of machines, designed in the most convoluted ways possible and intended to carry out simple tasks. Making these machines in real life is fun, but also a great exercise in the kind of creative thinking required in engineering.
Per the contest rules, the teams have to come up with a device that erases a blackboard in no less than 20 steps. Other than that, they’re left to their own creativity.
The Ellis High School team consisted of Electronics Technology and Sustainable Architecture students, along with guidance from Mr. DePietro and GK-12 Fellow, Stephanie Bendtsen. The team’s “School of Rock” machine successfully completed its task of erasing a chalkboard twice without any human intervention. In 22 steps, the team devised a machine that included among other things a keyboard, a flute, a Matchbox racetrack, a record player.
To see the device in action, here’s a video: