The Ladue Horton Watkins High School Science Olympiad Team was one of two Missouri teams to participate in the National Olympiad Competition at the University of Nebraska on May 15-16, 2015. Sophomores Luke Biernbaum and Patrick Naughton won first place gold medals in Mission Possible, considered the most challenging engineering event in the competition.
The two spent hundreds of hours on their Rube Goldberg device, an invention intended to do one simple task through complex maneuvering and moving between various forms of energy like mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc. In this case, Luke and Patrick created a device that drops six golf balls into three cups before a timer runs out. The mechanisms include levers, a motor, a timer and a switch, among others.
“We wanted to come up with a genius idea based on the rules but that had a simple design, because that would be more reliable,” Luke said.
The boys’ plan to implement a simple design worked; their device worked perfectly for the judges, and the two received the highest score in their event!
Luke said the two are already looking forward to this next year’s competition. He said he and Patrick plan to work as a team again, maybe this time in a category on model cars.
Both were also awarded $1,500 scholarships, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, toward the college of their choice. Each also earned an annual $13,000 scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Luke plans on going into mechanical engineering.
Overall, the LHWHS team finished 38 out of 61 teams and five places behind Pembroke Hill from Kansas City.
The 2014-2015 LHWHS Science Olympiad Team:
- Michael Prablek, senior
- Royce Dong, junior
- Tom Liu, junior
- Logan Page, junior
- Spencer Chen, junior
- Luke Biernbaum, sophomore
- Hans Chan, sophomore
- Anna Cramblitt, sophomore
- Yang Liu, sophomore
- Patrick Naughton, sophomore
- Alex Tan, sophomore
- Jeffrey Wang, sophomore
- Stephanie Zhong, sophomore
- Charlie Loitman, freshman
Jonathan Lin was the team’s volunteer coach from Washington University. Contributions made by the Ladue Dad’s Club and Ladue Parent’s Association assisted in the team’s travel expenses.