Last week, a few of our team members had the pleasure of taking part in one of Pittsburgh’s coolest STEM-education events, the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest! The annual contest is held at the city’s Carnegie Science Center in conjunction with the Westinghouse Electric Company and the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania.
For this year’s Chain Reaction Contraption Contest, the Inventionland Institute served as a sponsor and offered a tour of Inventionland to a group of contest winners. Also, as part of our sponsorship, contest organizers asked two of our team members to serve as judges.
So, we sent team members Chris Turner and Michael Spicer to the event last Friday, December 11th as area 9th-12 grade students built, engineered and operated wacky contraptions that would aid with an everyday task. Students were also challenged to tell a story with their contraption.
According to Turner, big winners at the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest were Hempfield Area High School, Cornell High School and North Allegheny Senior High School who took home 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes, respectively.
But, if you ask us, Turner and Spicer also won big by attending the event as judges.
“I was blown away by the many complex and fun projects that were on display. These kids worked hard and were quite proud of their work. I look forward to being a judge next year!” said Turner.
Spicer’s reaction was similar and he also noted how the contest inspired students to use STEM education subjects to solve everyday problems.
“I loved it. It was fun, exciting seeing people’s enthusiasm. I thought the people running it were amazing, they were dedicated, organized,” said Spicer. “[The contest] allowed [students] to create unique physical solutions to solving problems.”
A particular contraption that captivated Spicer featured a Las Vegas heist.
“It ranged with water-hydraulics, electrical, chemical reactions and told the story of a casino robbery. The story and the mechanics were well relayed. They very cleverly changed the feed of the contraption. There was a car chase at the end. They created a probability [of whether] they would get caught by the police or not,” said Spicer.
Turner said that other noteworthy contraptions included a “Marvelous” creative design, “Deliciously” awesome ideas, a WWII story with innovative reactions and a retro Mario Bros. contraption.
At last week’s Chain Reaction Contraption Contest, we sponsored an award category that North Allegheny Senior High School students won. We look forward to welcoming their innovative group to our creative design facility soon!