State High students create complicated contraptions

CDT photo

State College Area High School physics and engineering students were tasked with building a machine that could erase a whiteboard in a Rube Goldberg-inspired competition Wednesday at the North Building.

The machines had to erase the boards in six steps — twice. And three of the seven teams of three successfully completed the task.

On Saturday, Penn State students will tackle the task on chalkboards in 20 to 75 steps in the 2015 Penn State Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at 1 p.m. in Presidents Hall at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

A Rube Goldberg machine is “an overly complex contraption, designed with humor and a narrative, to accomplish a simple task,” according to the Rube Goldberg website. The international competitions, which are held annually, are named for the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor and writer.

Last year’s task was to zip a zipper. Past competitions challenged teams to select, crush and recycle an empty soft drink can; screw a light bulb into a socket; dispense an appropriate amount of hand sanitizer into a hand; fill and seal a time capsule with 20th century inventions; and make a cup of coffee.