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Hempfield Area team's engineering prowess captures the gold

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 6:14 p.m.
 

Gifted students at Hempfield Area High School brought home the gold from the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.

They displayed the winning “Rube's Arcade” on Monday to the school board.

The 28-step contraption begins with a launching device similar to those found on every pinball machine.

And then it's off to the finale — a card that slides down to read “Game Over” and “Thank you for visiting Rube's Arcade.”

Along the way, it's sheer genius with a little bit of whimsy — think Donkey Kong attached to a popsicle stick, a Pac-Man board and Yoshi, a green character from the Super Mario series.

A spinning roller blade sets off one chain reaction that drops Alka-Seltzer into water. That creates carbon-dioxide gas that travels through a tube to press down on the popsicle stick.

Later, some marbles take a roller coaster ride. Air released from a balloon sets Pac-Man off along the maze. And, of course, a mouse trap is involved along the way.

The Hempfield students claimed the top prize in December. The year before, the school's team placed second. In 2011, Hempfield won fourth place after finishing sixth the year before.

Mentoring the team was teacher Tom Harden, the man behind the Hempfield teams, and Westinghouse engineers Tim Johnson, Phil Hawkins and John Vanderhoff and Vocollect engineer Brent Nichols.

On the team are seniors Chase Brannon, Rebecca Donohue, Katie McFadden and Kelly O'Neill; juniors Jon Beranek and KatieVanderhoff; sophomores Timothy Brannon, Crystal Colinear, Morgan Johnson and Chase Pastor, and freshmen Anthony Buskirk, Rachel Capar, Benjamin Lawson, Jacob Mursch, Colin Phillips, Margaret Vanderhoff and Tate Yawitz.

 

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