rube goldberg, simple machines, maker, steam festWhat is a Rube Goldberg Machine!?

Rube Goldberg (1884-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist.  He was most famous for his wild and wacky chain reaction machines. If you’re not familiar with Rube Goldberg’s cartoons, go to the “Gallery” section of You can also find a complete biography for Rube at that site.

A Rube Goldberg Machine (RGM) is a “machine” which, through a series of complicated (and hopefully really funny) steps, accomplishes a simple task.  A Rube Goldberg machine uses everyday items (mostly junk!), typically tells a story and, most important of all, they make you LAUGH.  Here’s an awesome video that shows you an example of a fantastical Rube Goldberg Machine!

Millions of makers, nerds and geeks make Rube Goldberg Machines. They can’t help themselves! The great news is that while they’re having fun creating wildly complex solutions to simple, everyday tasks they also happen to be incorporating elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (with Art and design thrown into the mix!). A community RGM has the added benefit of getting wonderful DIYers to work together as a team to build a great Machine. Then when they complete their machine, they get to link up to other team’s machines – creating a massive, and massively connected string of incredible events!

The  Community Rube Goldberg Challenge

The 2nd annual Community Rube Goldberg Challenge will be taking place again this December 2019! Teams come together for this exciting showcase of their hand-built machines by linking them end to end with the purpose of moving a golf ball from one end to the other. A simple task made ridiculously, amazingly, wonderfully fun!

We make it easy!

Our free five-part curriculum and resources include:

    • Curriculum  appropriate for all ages (focused on 3rd through 8th graders, with tips for making it more challenging for older, advanced groups or simplifying for younger, less experienced groups. (PDF)
    • A cool Rube Goldberg Workbook (PDF)
    • Rules and guidelines (PDF) for your Community Rube Goldberg Challenge machine. **Want to build a machine with your group, but don’t want to be in the Community Challenge? That’s fine by us! Our curriculum is free to use by anyone at any time. But, please try to come to the Challenge as a spectator to cheer on the teams. 
    • Access to our free webinars in September and October to answer questions and share ideas with other RG facilitators

Who Should Participate?

This challenge is great for:

    • After school groups
    • Weekend workshop series
    • STE(A)M teams and courses
    • Home school families/groups
    • Church Groups
    • Scouts, 4-H, etc
    • …and even ADULTS!

Why Should my group participate?

Top Five benefits of exploring simple machines:

  1. Solve real-world, relevant problems together. 
  2. Practice iteration skills and perseverance, aka F.A.I.L First Attempt in Learning
  3. Flex design thinking muscles.
  4. Supplies are low-cost and readily available.
  5. Wild, Wacky, and Outrageous ideas encouraged!

Deadlines and Events:

  • Team Registration– May – October 2019
  • $30 team registration payments due – October 31, 2019
  • Challenge Finale Event –  December 8, 2019 – afternoon- Location TBD
    This will be a fun-filled afternoon of presenting and watching the machines work together. Your team gets to meet the other RG builders.
  • Is your team extra-special!?  Do you want to be the “Launch” (first) group, or the “Finale” (last) group in the chain of RGC machines?  Let us know on your application!


Download links:

RubeGoldberg Curriculum

RubeGoldberg Workbook

Rube Goldberg Community Challenge Guidelines