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We Have a Winner! Spring Contest 2019

By June 11, 2019January 8th, 2024Tinkering News
Joshua's Wheel Launcher


Creativity Strikes Again

Thank you to all of you who participated in our Spring Contest based on Electric Motors Catalyst Challenge #9: Build something that can launch a wheel across the room! Before announcing the winner, I just want to say that we were amazed by the creative solutions from the young inventors who participated. From time to time I get the opportunity to go to a school and participate in a Tinkering session, without fail a few kids will come up with new solutions to the challenges that I had never seen before.  Even though one of our principles in creating the challenges was “Wide Solution Space,” I’m still blown away by the creativity every time.

And this contest was no exception.  So without further ado, I give you the winner of the Tinkering Labs 2019 Spring Contest:

The Winner: JONAH from Logan, Ohio!

Congratulations Jonah!  There are so many things that we love about your invention.

1. Totally Original. Your whole approach is completely different from the step-by-step example that we included in the guide that comes with the Catalyst:

Challenge 9 Step by Step2. Rubber Band Power. You used rubber bands for power instead of the motor. Clever! We actually have seen rubber band powered wheel flingers before, but your design avoids a problem that many of them have, which is accuracy.  You solved that problem with…

3. Double-Lever Firing Mechanism. A lot of lever-powered designs use only one lever, and that can make it hard to control the direction of flight for the launched wheel.  You solve that by using two matched levers that work in combination to propel the wheel in a predictable direction.  But to make that work you had to invent the…

4. Synchronized Trigger. Sure, two levers are great, but only if they work exactly together.  If one releases even a fraction of a second before the other one, you are going to have an unpredictable firing direction again. You solved this problem by using two axels taped together to form a synchronized firing mechanism.  When you couple the twin levers with the precision trigger you get…

5. Excellent Range. What do you say in the video, almost 17 feet?  That’ll cross any just about any room in my house.

Jonah, thank you for the excellent invention.  We’ll be sending you the custom tool box soon, and I hope it is by your side for a lifetime of Tinkering.Custom made wood toolbox

Thank you also to all of the other young inventors who participated in this contest!  All of you will be getting your real wood “I Did It” stickers soon, so keep an eye on the mailbox for that.  If you put the sticker on something cool, share a picture with us on Instagram or Facebook.

And, I have two other things to share with all you Tinkerers.

First, I am hoping to one day see a wheel launcher design that imparts a strong spin to the wheel when it is launched, like a frisbee. My hunch is that you could get a very long flight that way.  If any of you succeed in making such a machine please email us at and let us know.

Second, since the winning invention is powered by rubber bands, I want to share one of my favorite videos: Richard Feynman explaining how rubber bands work.  The video has problems with both the sound and the picture, but the man and the ideas are spectacular. Are you curious about why rubber bands stretch and pull back?  Take three minutes and find out from one of the great geniuses of all time.

Tinker On,

– Matt & the Tinkering Labs Team