Rube Goldberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist was the inspiration behind the second Oswego County Youth Academic League competition of the school year.
Goldberg is best known for his ‘invention’ cartoons that depict a very complicated and sometimes ridiculous machine performing a mundane task.
His “Self-Operating Napkin” machine, for example, illustrates a series of steps using various objects and a parrot to swing a napkin back and forth to wipe a person’s chin.
Capturing the spirit of Goldberg’s legacy, OCAY League teams were tasked with engineering complex machines that, without any human invention, would place a ball into a cup. Each team was given a base to construct the machine on as well as a standard set of materials that included piping, duct tape, pipe cleaners, string, and wood pieces.
In addition, each team was given a standard number of chips to “purchase” additional materials at a supply table.
The event was timed, giving students approximately two and a half hours to complete their machines.
Independent judges with professional experience in engineering, building, and construction scored each team’s machine on design, complexity, application of engineering principals, and adherence to the Rube Goldberg spirit.
This score was added to the score that each team received for the number of successful steps the machine completed including the final step of placing a ball into a cup.
Capturing the first place gold medal was the Paul V. Moore High School team from Central Square.
In second place was the G. Ray Bodley High School team from Fulton and capturing third was the team from Mexico High School.
The OCAY League was organized in the spring of 1997 with the idea that academics merit a standing comparable to athletics.
Students’ academic skills are challenged and showcased in a wide variety of competitive events that emphasize scholastic excellence, team building, leadership and creativity.
A particular strength of the league is its emphasis on cooperative problem solving. OCAY League is coordinated through Oswego County BOCES’ Instructional Support Services as part of the Gifted and Talented Programs cooperative services.