Its complicated: Students take up Technion challenge

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Their mission: to build a Rube Goldberg machine in the spirit of Passover, for the Technion Jewish Day School Challenge.

Their accomplishment: Yavneh Day School students were finalists in the middle school division of a contest that drew more than 600 entrants from 41 Jewish day schools across North America, Europe, Australia and Africa.


Yavneh middle-schoolers work on their Rube Goldberg contraptions.

Rube Goldberg was a San Francisco cartoonist, engineer and inventor known for creating deliberately over-engineered contraptions that performed a simple task in a complicated fashion (generally including a chain reaction). The Passover-themed day school competition was created jointly by the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and Ravsak, a U.S.-based national Jewish community day school network. 


Students entering the contest followed a rigorous rubric that called for the machines to ultimately reveal a seder plate.

In the weeks leading up to the contest deadline, Yavneh students tinkered away, getting insider tips from Technion mechanical engineering professor Alon Wolf and other Technion faculty.

The Yavneh team in Los Gatos was led by Vanina Sandel, the school’s STEAM coordinator (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

The students “enjoyed putting together their Rube Goldberg machines, simultaneously designing and building the machine itself, collaborating with their teammates, and enriching their understanding of Pesach,” said head of school Zvi Weiss. 

To view a video of the Yavneh students’ Rube Goldberg machine, see For a look at more Technion Challenge machines, go to