By Keith Jones

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two South Florida seventh graders are the first winners of the newly launched CBS4 Sunday Morning Science Lab contest, where once a month, CBS4 honors the student or students who create an innovative STEM project for a chance to be featured on TV.

Jean Yacoub and Nashla Mejia, 11 and 12 years old, are in Ms. Diaz’s science class at Downtown Doral Charter School. The assignment was to build a Rube Goldberg machine which are often wacky contraptions but just for fun or  intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way.

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Jean Yacoub and Nashla Mejia, winners of the first Sunday Morning Science Lab project in Sept. 2021 (CBS4)

“We needed to use five different simple machines that made a bigger one,” said Jean, “So, we did it in Minecraft.”

Using the popular gaming platform, they built a video showing a railcar rolling along, the movements creating cause and effect.

“For example, when I push the lever it sends it up flying,” he explained.

Jean said he likes to fix things at home and solve problems, and Nashla says she has a creative side.

“I like to play with Legos, and I like to create with them.”

Teamwork makes the dreamwork.

Image of Minecraft created Rube Goldberg Machine by Jean Yacoub and Nashla Mejia. (Courtesy: Jean Yacoub and Nashla Mejia)

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Jean said Nashla made the sketches and counted the measurements and he put the measurements to create the video in the game.

“When we put them all together, they worked!” said Nashla.

“Just like a roller coaster, you go down the cave, see lights, and you are going really fast,” Jean described what you see in the video.

The community benefit to this project is to bring some joy by sharing the video with kids who are in the hospital.

“They cannot I go outside, so we decided to bring the fun to them. We decided this would be a cool idea made this cool video for them,” said Jean.

It is very cool indeed.

You can watch the entire video here.

If you or a student you know would like to enter our CBS4 Sunday Morning Science Lab contest, it is open to students in grade 3-8 who attend schools in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe Counties (including public, private, and home school. All kinds of STEM projects are accepted ranging from the environment to outer space, as long as its non-flammable.

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Click here to enter and see all the rules.