Boeing Creates Rube Goldberg Competition for Students

July 25, 2016 in Community

The roar of power tools, the scratch of sandpaper and buzz of fans. Those could be the sounds of employees working on a bustling Boeing factory floor — however, in this case, they were the sounds of aspiring young engineers constructing Rube Goldberg machines.

The project, initiated and coordinated by Boeing engineer and student mentor Alex Ortiz, is a modified version of a college activity centered on science, technology, engineering and math. 

"I really hope they learned critical thinking," Ortiz said. "We gave the students full autonomy over the projects, the opportunity to think creatively and apply real-world scenarios."

St. Louis Education Relations partners with Learning for Life to offer hands-on learning experiences designed to inspire potential next-generation engineers. Students work with Boeing mentors to learn more about career opportunities.

"I’ve always wanted to be an engineer," said high school sophomore Riley Marcotte. "I want to go to college, and this activity helped me understand all the different fields I could study."

Students also learned finance, project management and interpersonal skills during the project. All their hard work came down to one night and one question: Will their machines work? Watch the video to see the contraptions clank, clack and spin toward the goal of raising a Boeing flag.

St. Louis-area high school students test a completed Rube Goldberg machine that uses chutes, pulleys, motion sensors, marbles and fans to set off a chain reaction that raises a Boeing flag.