Last-Minute Fix. First-Place Finish

For two hours, Windsor 7th graders Ilia Bronson, Ruby Hans, Berkely Ingram, and Lily Roberts calculated, measured, experimented, and perfected a Rube Goldberg machine at the Broome-Tioga BOCES Engineering Day competition that would propel a rocket into a cup. And when they set the pieces in motion to show off their creation….

… didn’t work.

They had 15 minutes to fix it.
Thankfully, the solution came to them in an instant.

“We found out there was a toy car we could use to move the rocket. And they gave us a bonus item that if we used it, we got extra points,” said Ingram.

The group only had one more step before using the toy car to finish their project.

“We had to ask someone if our solution was even allowed because it seemed so easy,” said Roberts.

“We worked smarter, not harder,” said Ingram.

Not that it was always easy.

“Every challenge that we had was just an opportunity to test our mental toughness,” said Hans. “I think that our communication and relationship between the girls helped a lot because we trusted and encouraged each other.”

The machine worked flawlessly for the judges when the team presented it for a second time. It was a satisfying moment for the students.

“When it went in the cup and everything worked, we all jumped up,” said Ingram.

Then came the scores.

“We thought we’d get high scores but not sure we’d win,” said Roberts.

“The second- and third-place teams were all 8th graders so we didn’t think we were going to win,” said Ingram.

Then the judges announced the Windsor team as the winners with a score of 140.81 points, 20 more than the second-place team.

“Honestly, we thought we did a good job but not that good. When we heard our names over the loudspeaker, we were like, ‘Wow, we actually won.’ Then we thought, ‘The guys are never going to hear the end of this,’” said Bronson, referring to the all-boys 7th-grade team from Windsor.  “It was kind of like a mini competition between us. We were like, ‘We have to beat the guys no matter what.’ But they did a good job.”

Bronson, Hans, Ingram, and Roberts are enjoying a win that exceeded their expectations.  

“I did not go there thinking we’d get first place,” Roberts.

“It was really fun. It was a good experience,” said Bronson.

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