Students showcase creativity and innovation in Rube Goldberg STEM competition

Sunday , January 21, 2018 - 5:00 AM


OGDEN — Twelve-year-old Nation Selim paced back and forth as his team prepared the booth where a dummy of Albert Einstein was lying down.

Selim was in charge of an important task: stepping on the pedal that would activate several parts of his booth until the dummy poured a bowl of cereal.

Selim is a middle school student at Quest Academy. His school was among six in the state to compete at the Live II Rube Goldberg Competition on Friday, Jan. 19, at Weber State University.

Selim, 12, said he has been in the same position before.

“I’m nervous,” Selim said. “I did this last year and we took second (place),” Selim said before he positioned himself in the left corner of the booth.

The event was inspired by the comic Rube Goldberg and his machines, which involve a complex chain of events leading to the accomplishment of a simple task.

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Dana Dellinger, the director of Weber State Center for Technology Outreach, said the event allows students to creatively apply with a hands-on project what they learn in their science, technology, engineering and math courses.

“We see the value and importance of really encouraging our community and all of our kids to grow into STEM,” Dellinger said.

Elementary schools were allowed to participate this year for the first time and Odyssey Elementary had two teams competing.

Cesar Ochoa, 10, led one of Odyssey Elementary’s teams to accomplish the goal of pouring a bowl of cereal.

Ochoa’s task was to use a leaf blower that would blow an inflatable ball until it hit multiple objects before a box of cereal would be poured into a bowl. Ochoa said his favorite part was using the leaf blower.

“I’m doing that step, I’m starting it,” Ochoa said.

Crystal Silva, Ochoa’s mother, said the event inspired her son. She said her son talked about the project every day for at least two months.

“He wants to be an astronaut,” Silva said. “Hopefully he follows his dream and this is part of his dream.”

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St. Joseph Catholic High, New Bridge Elementary and Syracuse Junior High also participated in the event.

April Mananquil, 17, is a senior at Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Sciences. Her team struggled to accomplish this year’s task.

“If we don’t win, that’s OK,” Mananquil said. “It’s good to know our hard work brought us here.”

Final results will be available next week. The high school and middle school category winners will have the opportunity to attend the national championship in April in Chicago.

Mananquil said being involved with STEM has helped her find creative solutions to simple and complex issues.

“There’s so many things that are prominent in the world that revolve around STEM,” Mananquil said. “So, if you want to be involved in the world, you have to do STEM.”

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at

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