Via Jeff Wagner Agency and the Santa Monica Pier.

Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Pier.

On Sunday, March 5, the landmark Santa Monica Pier will transform into a nucleus of innovation as it welcomes many of the country’s brightest young inventors, tech leaders, educators and students for the 4th Annual S.T.E.A.M. Machines Innovation Fair. This one-day event is free to the public and summons all to playfully dive into an interactive experience that connects the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Launching at 11:00am, S.T.E.A.M. will entertain, enlighten, and mesmerize in three ways: a Path to Innovation Panel hosting brilliant galactic and scientific minds, an Innovation Exhibition presenting a wonderland of experiential and groundbreaking delights, and the Rube Goldberg Curious Contraption Contest featuring student teams from across Los Angeles and the nation.

Rube Goldberg Curious Contraption Contest
Welcome to the main event, sure to capture the attention of everyone from the mildly curious spectator to the die-hard science fanatic. In what sounds like a fantasy bestseller, the regional contest features tiers of middle school, high school, and university squads in a battle of Rube Goldberg machines – overly engineered contraptions that achieve a simple end-game through the most complicated (and humorous) paths imaginable. Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize winning inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg, these contraptions inspire creativity and innovation. On the Internet, they’re viral video sensations, and in-person, they’re mechanical magic.

Student teams from Santa Monica to Arkansas are scheming big for this year’s challenge – applying a Band-Aid in minimum of 20 chain reactions. Down the Santa Monica Pier, over a dozen machines will be operating in 10’x10’ plots, each tinkering towards that final Band-Aid mechanism. The winning team will be judged and awarded a cash prize and entry to the national competition by a creditable committee: Lyle Tavernier (NASA Educational Technology Specialist), Hector Alvarez (Two Bit Circus Creative Director), Brett Doar (celebrated Rube Goldberg machinist), Martin Tomasz (analog/radio/mixed-signal engineer), and Heather Doyle (S.T.E.A.M. Innovation Fair Creator).

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Path to Innovation Panel
A notable panel of scientific wizards will enlighten folks with visionary tales, discussing challenges in their fields and revealing secrets that the future holds.

  • Gray Bright: Host of the Tomorrow Show, standup comedian, robotic engineer, and Lego enthusiast.
  • Brent Bushnell: Board President and CEO (or Chief Rabble-Rouser) of Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based experiential entertainment company.
  • Michelle Easter: former high fashion runway model who diverted at 26 to pursue an engineering degree. By 31, she had finished at the top of her class with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is now a Mechatronics Engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • Jeremy Selan: two-time Scientific and Technical Achievement Academy Award Winner and Valve developer making an impact in the virtual reality sector.
  • Zaina Siyed: local high school student, robotics champion and founder of FemSTEM – a foundation to help encourage girls to participate in STEM activities.

Innovation Exhibition
During the competition, innovation stations will be activated throughout the pier hosted by event partners and vendors. Each will spark curiosity and engagement from the crowds with its own brand of genius:

  • Columbia Memorial Space Center: guests can use LEGO robots to compete against each other at soccer.
  • Craig Burrows Photography: floral photography collection lauded by Wired for its ‘ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence’ technique.
  • Heal the Bay / Aquarium / FCEC: piloting an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), build boats out of aluminum foil and play around with a host of other technological gadgets.
  • Orchanic: showcasing an A.I. prototype that uses Deep Learning to identify trash on the beaches, the HEXA spider robot, and smart clothing.
  • Paisley Garbage: arts and craft vendor.
  • Peddler’s Creamery: churn delicious homemade ice cream by a bicycle.
  • reDiscover Center: turn massive amounts of recycled cardboard into anything imaginable.
  • STEMup4Youth: guests can let their imaginations go wild by building enormous structures out of recycles cardboard.
  • Steve Craig’s drawBot: a crowd favorite, Steve Craig returns again this year with his exceptionally popular drawing machines and more.
    T4T.org: invites festival-goers to create the Ultimate Recycling Machine using their imagination, engineering skills, and some fun upcycled materials.

For more information, visit SteamMachinesLA.com; search for the official event hashtag #SteamMachines.