Deliver Your News to the World

Students to Unveil Complex machines at Chain Reaction Contraption Contest on DEC. 10


High Schoolers face off at Carnegie Science Center in competition testing engineering skills and Creativity

PITTSBURGH, PA, – Teams from 36 high schools across the region will compete in the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest at Carnegie Science Center on Friday, Dec. 10.

The competition, powered by Westinghouse Electric Company, challenges students to create a complex machine to make change for a dollar in a most inefficient way. After months of tinkering, designing, and solving engineering problems, the students will formally present their machines.

Most people view machines as the epitome of efficiency, designed to make work processes faster and easier. The ideal machine requires few steps and uses as little energy as possible. The Chain Reaction Contraption competition reverses that thinking by providing students a challenge—this year’s task being to make change for a dollar—and forcing them to complete the task in at least 20 steps. Judges then evaluate how the machines reflect critical thinking and engineering skills.

Chain Reaction Contraption is part of Carnegie Science Center’s celebration of National Engineers Week. “Chain Reaction Contraption focuses on the problem-solving and creative aspects of engineering,” says Linda Ortenzo, director of Carnegie Science Center’s Regional SciTech Initiative. “So many people think engineers need to be skilled only in math and science, but they also need to be able to bring a new perspective to a challenge and really think as they work to solve issues. These are vital skills for engineers.”

Since the beginning of the school year, the competing teams have completed several steps, including providing a design proposal in October and submitting several photographic progress reports during the construction and testing phases.

“Building a machine or a new product requires a level of documentation that we wanted the students to experience,” said Lisa Kosick, coordinator of the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest. “The competition isn’t just about throwing together as many steps as possible to get the job done, but planning and then adapting those plans during the process to reach a specific outcome.”

Contraptions must be built from everyday household items; can be no larger than five feet high, three feet wide, and two feet deep; and cannot use plug-in electrical equipment or animals. Relying primarily on the general laws of physics and the occasional battery to power their machines, the machines must include at least 20 steps and take at least 30 seconds to complete the task. Each machine must successfully complete the task at least eight times during the course of the competition.

The 2009 competition, won by North Allegheny Senior High School, required students to construct a building in 20 steps or more.

The Chain Reaction Contraption competition is made possible by the generous support of Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC, and the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Participating Schools:

Avella High School

Avonworth High School

Bay Village High School

Belle Vernon Area High School

Berlin Brothersvalley High School

Brentwood Borough School District

Burgettstown Area Middle High School

Butler Senior High School

Cameron County High School

Carlynton Junior/Senior High School

Deer Lakes High School

Ellwood City Area Schools

Franklin Regional Senior High School

Gateway High School

Greater Latrobe Senior High School

Hampton High School

Hempfield Area High School

Kiski Area High School

Laurel Junior/Senior High School

Mars Area High School

Mohawk Area School

Moon High School

New Brighton High School

North Allegheny Intermediate School

Reynolds School District

Saint Joseph High School

Seneca Valley Intermediate High School

Seneca Valley Senior High School

Serra Catholic High School

Smethport Area High School

Somerset Area School District

Speiro Academy

Springdale Junior/Senior High School

Trinity High School

Washington High School

Yough High School

About Carnegie Science Center
Carnegie Science Center brings the world of science alive for visitors of all ages. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center features hands-on exhibits, three live demonstration theaters, a four-story Omnimax theater, Highmark SportsWorks®, an interactive full-dome digital planetarium, a Cold War-era submarine moored on Pittsburgh’s Ohio River, the world’s largest and most comprehensive robotics exhibition, and a world-renowned model railroad display. Carnegie Science Center is located at One Allegheny Avenue on Pittsburgh’s North Shore next to Heinz Field. Visit, or call 412.237.3400 for more information.

About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. In 2009, the museums reached more than 1.2 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.


This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.