CALGARY -- It was all Alberta on the podium at the recent Canada CyberSTEAM Challenge, with Edmonton students finishing and second and Calgarian Noah Brake taking third in a field of 80 competitors.

The Canada CyberSTEAM Challenge is a series of six virtual competitions hosted by TeamUP Science and combines science, technology, engineering, the arts and math for kids in Grades 6-9.

"These are the results of the fourth challenge," said event vice-president Jessica Bennett.

"This is the first time I'm proud to say that all of our Top 3 participants are from Alberta, we had the Top 2 from Edmonton and our third place winner from Calgary."

The theme of the 48 hour challenge was Mission to Mars and it featured three components. First students had to build their own Mars rover or landing device that could safely transport an egg from a minimum height of 1.27 metres (50 inches).

Second students had to work with a map of Mars to find the best landing location for their experiment.

And third they worked with a digital tool to create a mini game for navigating the red planet.

"Part of the point system was that if you used three recycled materials then you got points," said Brake. "Which is funny because I only used two and I lost points for that."

The Grade 9 student used straws and duct tape to build his device, along with a garbage bag that served as a parachute. He did some research on the internet and found that many people attached the straws directly to the egg.

"But the problem with that is then all the force when it hits the ground is being transferred to the egg," said Brake.

"But I designed it to hold the egg so that the straws would push the force up to the top of the straw instead of the egg."

Brake decided 50 inches wasn't the best test for his vehicle so he went up to 180 inches — 4.5 metres — for the drop.

He says that height allowed the parachute to open and do its work to slow and stabilize the payload.

Jason Brake is Noah's dad and says he tries to stay out of his son's way when he's working on a project. But the straw design wasn't quite strong enough in initial tests so he suggested a small addition.

"Here in the wood shop we just made thin strips of wood that could stick into the straws just to give a little more strength," said Brake. "So it still flexed but it was enough that it didn't buckle."

Noah's design worked to keep the egg safe and unbroken in the massive drop. And there was another benefit to dropping the vehicle from so high.

"I think he actually managed to figure out in terms of the parachute side of things," said Bennett.

"The higher you drop it from, the slower your drop and he actually had the slowest drop out of everyone that submitted, that's a huge accomplishment for him."

Jason says Noah has always liked to figure out how things work and the 14-year-old would like a career one day that includes many elements of STEAM.

"Definitely an engineer for aerospace," said Brake. "But I would hate to be an astronaut because its is very horrifying."

The final 48-hour challenge takes place March 27 and 28 when students will be tasked with building a Rube Goldberg machine.

Learn more about the competition online.