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What is the Rube Goldberg Competition?

Rube Goldberg machine contests are inspired by Reuben Lucius Goldberg, whose cartoons combined simple household items into complex devices to perform trivial tasks. The machines combine the principles of physics and engineering, using common objects such as marbles, mousetraps, stuffed animals, electric mixers, vacuum cleaners, rubber tubes, bicycle parts and anything else that happens to be on hand.

The Argonne-sponsored Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is held every year in late winter or early spring at Chicago's Navy Pier. Area high schools compete to build a complex machine, comprising over 20 steps, to perform a simple task.

The ultimate goal of the contest is give high school students hands-on engineering experience and to encourage them to make science and engineering part of their future academic and professional careers.


Past Competitions

2013 Competition -- Video: Hammer a Nail
2012 Competition -- Video: Inflate and Pop a Balloon
2011 Competition -- Article: Water a Plant

2014 Competition: Zip a Zipper

Argonne National Laboratory's 19th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest will be held on February 21, 2014 at the Chicago Children's Museum.

In addition to advancing to the national championship, the winning team will receive a traveling trophy to display until the 2015 contest. The group will also be invited on a tour of Argonne and lunch with Argonne scientists, where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their creation.

Argonne’s Division of Communication, Education and Public Affairs is sponsoring the event in collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Museum and the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.

How to Register

To register for this competition, please visit the Rube Goldberg website.

Contact Information

For questions about the Rube Goldberg Competition contact

Emily Mancini
Phone: (630) 252-3380

Last update: January 7, 2014

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