Hilliard students' complex machines accomplish a simple goal.

The click-clack of rolling balls and cascading dominoes, punctuated by the occasional shout of frustration, resonated in a Makoy Center room last weekend.

Students in grades 2 to 5 at Avery, Crossing and Horizon elementary schools and two local businesses – Heartland Bank and the Lardiere McNair law firm – participated March 3 in the Re-Use, Re-Think, Re-Build! Rube Goldberg Machine Competition exhibit at the Makoy, 5462 Center St. in Hilliard.

The participants were tasked with using mostly recyclable material to create a complex, multiple-stage machine that pours cereal into a bowl through a series of chain reactions.

Although the final function was the same for all teams, the steps to get there could be anything they imagined.

"It was fun to do. Every time we messed up, we had a laugh," said Kira Morisue-Lesser, a fifth-grader at Crossing.

"But sometimes we got angry, too," said Lauren Bomer, another Crossing fifth-grader.

The Rube Goldberg machine competition was March 2, with Hilliard City Planner John Talentino, Franklin County Engineer Cornell Robertson and "Mr. COSI" Leonard Sparks serving as judges for the business and school categories. The machines were exhibited March 3 at the Makoy.

Such machines are named for Rube Goldberg (1883-1970), a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist known for illustrating intricate, complicated machines -- typically with each step lettered -- that perform a simple operation, such as pouring a bowl of cereal.

For example, the winning Lardiere McNair entry, which was designed and built by Mac Murphy, a 2017 Hilliard Bradley High School graduate and a student at Columbus State Community College, an included an elaborate 33 steps to tip a box of cereal.

Many of the machines employed a ball that rolled on tracks, tapping dominoes or blocks that fell and activated another trigger to tip a cereal box.

Other devices used the momentum of a Hot Wheels car rolling down the track to initiate the desired chain reaction.

"There was a lot of trial and error," said Karen Lycan, a gifted-student intervention specialist at Avery and Horizon.

Organizers hope to expand the event next year and involve more students, said Pete Marsh, who helped plan and launch the event as a member of Destination Hilliard and the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.

Marsh said he and Christy Clark, executive director of Destination Hilliard, collaborated to create the competition, an effort to "marry a tourism activity with one that also supports the mission of the Environmental Sustainability Commission."

Marsh had to resign from both roles to accept an appointment to Hilliard City Council in January, so the competition's future will be managed by others, including several Hilliard City Schools teachers.

The students first worked in small groups building one component and then worked collaboratively to join the components into a single machine required to execute at least 10 steps.

"It's really a great experience (and) a chance to bond with our friends," said Jalen Jordan, a Crossing fifth-grader.

Melisa Hayes, a second-grade teacher at Avery, said it was "amazing to watch her students collaborate" and a good opportunity "for kids to shine."

"It was also a great exercise in problem-solving for our kids," said Jamee Smith, a third-grade teacher at Horizon.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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