LAYTON — Junior high and high school students from northern Utah gathered at Weber State's Layton campus on Friday to compete in the first Rube Goldberg competition in Utah, hosted by the Utah Aerospace Education Foundation and the Utah Air Force Association Northern Utah Chapter.
Rube Goldberg machines are multi-step devices using ordinary objects such as dominos, marbles, balloons, cans or anything else to perform a simple task. This year's task was to erase a chalkboard.
The Northern Utah Academy for Math Engineering and Science won first place in the high school division, with St. Joseph Catholic High School taking second and Northridge High School finishing third.
"The AFA and the AEF support a lot of STEM activities in schools," said Frances Bradshaw, president of the AEF and co-chair of the Rube Goldberg competition. "We were looking for something that was very specific, very engineering, very think-outside-the-box, very creative. Most of the other competitions they give you have a lot of instructions, but this competition is very open ended."
"This competition is pure kids, science and imagination," said Jim Aadland, co-chair of the Rube Goldberg competition. "I loved the imagination of the machines that were created by the teams. It was a beautiful start to this."
Teams came up with creative ways to erase the chalkboard. One team used a feather duster on a motor, while another used three erasers attached to rotors.
Students said they learned a lot about science and engineering while preparing for this competition. "I learned the communication is really vital," said Jonathan Barfuss, a student at NUAMES. "Also, that we have to be ready for problems that happen. I also learned that duct tape is one of the most valuable things."
"It was really fun," said Ethan Durbano, a student at St. Joseph Catholic High School. "Teamwork, getting together and planning your time are very important in competitions like this. imagination helps, especially with something like this. You have to be open to new ideas and open to accept everybody's ideas."
The AFA and AEF will sponsor another Rube Goldberg competion and hope that it will become a new yearly tradition in Utah.
"I hope this becomes really successful. We're planning on spreading it throughout the state," Bradshaw said. "We're hoping that this will catch on and become one of the larger Rube Goldberg competitions in the United States."
Lafe Peavler is a staff sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.