“Outlandish machines” designed by area fifth graders will be on display as LLCC hosts the 13th annual Springfield Area Fifth Grade Rube Goldberg Competition on Saturday, Feb. 23. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. in the student union. There is no admission fee, and the public is invited to attend.
A Rube Goldberg device, such as the board game “Mousetrap,” is an elaborate apparatus designed to complete a certain task through a number of complex steps. Area fifth graders are currently developing their own unique Rube Goldberg devices for this year’s competition. They receive assistance from engineer volunteers, coordinated by the area Engineer in the Classroom Board. The engineer volunteers visit classes and provide instruction on machines and engineering in general, along with suggestions for their “secret” Rube Goldberg.
The purpose of this event is to introduce children to the idea of pursuing a career in engineering or closely related field. It is the only Rube Goldberg program in the nation specifically aimed at elementary age school children.
This year, 11 teams are participating from Dubois Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Graham Elementary, Our Savior Lutheran, Rochester Intermediate, Springfield Christian and Trinity Lutheran-Springfield.
Last year’s task entailed building a Rube Goldberg that would “have one object orbit another object at least three times.” Cindy George’s and Mary Schackman’s combined fifth grade class from Owen Marsh, with engineer volunteers Alan Ho from FHWA and Tim Peters from IDOT, took home the top prize. This year’s competition involves building a Rube Goldberg that through at least 10 different steps must generate a minimum of four distinct and separate sounds.