FORSYTH — The Decatur Christian School’s fifth-grade students came up with an unbeatable solution in the ingenious, creative Rube Goldberg competition.
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a cartoonist, engineer and inventor best known for cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. He is the inspiration for international competitions that challenge participants’ imagination.
Decatur Christian’s 16-person team, led by teacher Pam Norris, overcame 16 other entries in a Children’s Museum of Illinois competition, qualifying for state competition Friday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Their contraption was called Bug Zone. The idea was to plant a “seed,” actually a marble, and then cover it. Here’s the process: ramp, funnel, pulley, dominoes, trapdoor, lever and gear.
“Each member of the team submitted an idea,” Brianna Austin said. “We had two engineers from the Decatur community (Steven McGhee and Dana Mann) helping.”
Although Emily Moore protested with “I hate bugs, they make me scream,” Bug Zone was adopted as the idea. “The kids brought stuff from home to be used in the construction,” Norris said. “The classroom was full of junk. Then it all worked out.”
This is the second time Decatur Christian has advanced to high-level competition, following a third-place qualifying finish in 2007.
The Decatur Christian team is Brianna Austin, Leah Baylor, Alana Blancett, Danny Blancett, Nathan Byrne, Scott Dowling, Courtney Drew, Dylan Duzan, Isaac Fouse, Hunter Gregory, Caleb Harmon, Hannah Martin, Faih McKee, Emily Moore, Jessica Nantes and Jonas Yeakley.