How many people does it take to pound a nail?
The magic number was 16 for Kimberly High School. That’s how many students were on the team that won the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest regional competition Monday, March 11, at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Kimberly scored 316 points. Second place went to Bayfield with 290 points followed by the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf 289 and Thorp and South Shore with 276 each. Other high schools competing were Amery, Plum City, Unity and Spring Valley.
Kimberly advances to the national tournament Saturday, March 16, at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.
The contest challenges teams to create a standard-size machine that turns a simple procedure into something complicated, in honor of the 20th century engineer and cartoonist whose work spoofed modern machinery.
This year’s national challenge is to hammer a nail in 20 steps or more. Kimberly’s machine had 44 steps, and although the machine didn’t run perfectly in any of the three rounds it easily outdistanced the competition.
“We had confidence in our machine,” said co-captain Kendal Schumacher, noting that no other teams’ machines ran perfectly, either.
The theme of Kimberly’s machine, like Bayfield’s, is the classic “Tom and Jerry” cat-and-mouse cartoon. Using gravity, levers, pulleys and other devices, some features include cheese pulled on a string, a steel ball that climbs a ladder, swinging billiard balls, a steel ball that shoots through the air into a dog dish and, of course, a final step in which a hammer strikes a nail in a piece of wood.
Kimberly team members came from two sections of a fall Rube Goldberg class taught by Kevin Janota and Luke Smith, both UW-Stout alumni. They also are the team advisers.
Students also worked during open lab times and weekends to complete the machine, co-captain Breanna Herbst said. “It was a challenge and a lot of hard work, but it was worth it,” Herbst said.
Several other teams won awards. Unity earned the Most Spirited, Amery the People’s Choice, Plum City the Most Humorous and Spring Valley the Best Story.
The regional event at UW-Stout is hosted annually by the UW-Stout Technology Education Collegiate Association. The major sponsors were Phillips-Medisize, OEM Fabricators and Greenheck Fan.