PEWAUKEE, Wis. — Usually, the goal is to make everyday tasks easier, not harder. However, for some Wisconsin middle school students, the opposite is true.

Recently, middle school students from around the state came together at Waukesha County Technical College to compete in a Contraption Competition.

They had to build complicated machines to do a simple task.

At the competition, Waukesha STEM Academy student Daria Tolkachova put the finishing touches on her team’s design. It took a lot of work to make it come together, as well as plenty of trial and error on the day of the competition.

“It is about finding the root of the problem, if you are just like, ‘I am going to be patient and not do anything about it,’ then your patience will run out eventually,” Tolkachova said.

They are skills that are true of careers in science and engineering as well.

While the competition is fun, STEM Forward director Rich Merkel said it teaches important skills.

“It is very hands on, they are learning about physics, engineering design process as they get their hands dirty and they come up with solutions for their machines,” Merkel said.

STEM Forward plans to host additional contraption events in the near future, including at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.