Cambria Heights High School took first place in the 2021 Chain Reaction Contraption Contest

Several other schools also impress judges of STEM competition at Carnegie Science Center
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The first-place team from Cambria Heights High School poses with their contraption during the 2021 Chain Reaction Contraption Contest.

On Dec. 10, 2021, a team of students from Cambria Heights High School took first place in the 2021 Chain Reaction Contraption Contest, powered by Westinghouse Electric Company and presented in partnership with Carnegie Science Center.

Approximately 215 students from 28 high schools in the Pittsburgh region participated in the annual competition, which challenges students to build a machine that accomplishes a simple task using a series of 20 or more steps. This year, students created contraptions that successfully completed this year’s challenge, “Turn the Page”.

The first-place project from Cambria Heights – titled “The Office” – completed a series of steps using paper clip ramps, a mouse trap, dominoes, and common office supplies to turn a notebook page.

The contraptions could not rely on electricity from a plug to power their steps and often relied completely on mechanical power. Teams were judged on a variety of factors, including the reliability of the contraption, how well it fit the theme, how long it took to reset it for a second run, creativity, presentation, and the progress reports teams sent in before the competition day.

Students from Hempfield Area High School and Brentwood High School took second and third place, respectively. In addition, judges chose winners of the following special awards:

  • Cambria Heights High School — Longest Successfully Executed Contraption, sponsored by Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
  • Greater Altoona Career Technical Center — Rookie of the Year, sponsored by Carnegie Science Center
  • Hempfield Area High School — Best Presentation, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University
  • Montour High School — Most Green, sponsored by ALCOSAN
  • Moon Area High School (Team 2) — Most Efficient Reset, sponsored by Carnegie Science Center
  • Cambria Heights High School — Most Innovative, sponsored by Jones Day
  • Franklin Regional Senior High School — Best Execution of a Theme, sponsored by Kennywood

For more than 20 years, Westinghouse has provided generous sponsorship and volunteer support for the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest supporting education with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as part of the company’s Charitable Giving Program.

Photos and video from the competition are available upon request. Please contact Kaitlyn Zurcher at for more information.


About Carnegie Science Center
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