Norge Elementary team applies Band-Aid, wins $1,500

The goal? Apply a Band-Aid.

The trick? Create a multi-step machine to do it without human interaction.

That was what a team of 12 Norge Elementary School fifth graders set out to do for this year's Mad Science Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.

And they won, taking home the first place prize of $1,500.

"Not only did they have a different and complex machine, they also had two different robots they programmed," said Norge fourth-grade teacher Ann Beatty. "Those were set up to go on impact, and I think that was one of the things that set them apart, that they had incorporated technology really well into design."

Beatty led the Norge Roadrunners team along with gifted resource teacher Jamie Collins.

This year was the school's second try at developing a machine. The contest is run by the science-education company Mad Science in conjunction with Rube Goldberg Incorporated, a science, technology, math, arts and engineering education nonprofit.

The contest is open to schools in seven participating countries including the China, Morocco, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, according to Mad Science's website.

Tasks teams of students between 5 and 12 years old to create Rube Goldberg Machines — purposefully complex contraptions meant to carry out simple tasks. Rube Goldberg was a 20th-century, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist best known for drawing crazy inventions, which the organization named for him is bringing to life in schools around the country, according to the nonprofit's website.

The Roadrunners used household objects like dominoes, golf balls, a wooden ladder and a bucket of water along with computer-programmed Sphero robots.

Norge didn't place last year, losing out to two teams from Shanghai and one from Kansas. That made this year's win a little bit sweeter, Beatty said.

"The kids were really excited because when you think of technology, the Chinese just stand out so much," Beatty said.

Videos of contraptions — required to incorporate a humorous element and made of more than 10 steps — were due by May 1. Collins said the Norge team had met once a week since October.

Norge's machine had 22 steps, the last of which was "We all shout YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!," according to their list on Mad Science's website.

The video closely followed this year's under-the-sea theme, complete with a student pretending to swim in the background. In the video, Brian Morillo explains how the machine works while being interviewed by teammate Evan Miller.

Their team also included Hayden Allen, Madison Beacham, Joseph DeLaney, Timofey Dyakov, Evan Jeffries, Chelsea Lobus, Lana Peregrine, Colin Peters, Isaac Shreaves and Joseph Wan.

Collins said the prize money, which will go toward buying new technology for the school, will be the fifth-grade team's legacy at Norge.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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