Amazing Rube Goldberg Machines!

Posted January 26, 2021 by Jessica Fahrenholtz

The Rube Goldberg competition is a fun contest with a lot of history. The first competition was held over 70 years ago in 1949 between two rival fraternities. As engineering students, the two frat houses decided that the best way to add a little fun to their annual Engineer’s Ball while still exercising their creative brains was to build crazy contraptions using only the material they had lying around. 

After these first competitors graduated, the trophy sat in an attic for years until it was reinvigorated as the annual Rube Goldberg Competition. To this day, this contest is encouraging students from across the country to turn the junk they have lying around the house into a fun and useful competition to solve simple problems that some would argue are not problems at all. 

Since the competition started back up in 1988, they have seen everything from napkin face wiping contraptions to superheroes disguised as children’s toys. 

This academic competition is a favorite with students and educators alike because it encourages students to think outside the box and invent something as fun as it is functional. It also teaches kids the importance of repurposing the things they already have that would otherwise be thrown out. 

Now the Rube Goldberg Competition has grown into an exciting academic contest that students look forward to year after year. Here you’ll see some impressive Rube Goldberg Machines from the past to help inspire you going into the future.

  1. The Page Turner – Rube Goldberg machines are known for their intricate and overly silly solutions to common everyday problems. This is no exception. The page-turner was invented by Joseph Herscher, an artist from New York. A simple sip of coffee triggered his Rube Goldberg machine. Once it’s in a motion, a series of beautifully orchestrated actions fall one after another until the page of his morning newspaper is turned. 


  1. This Too Shall Pass– A one-of-a-kind Rube Goldberg music video by the band “OK Go” is a widely popular video among engineers and music lovers alike. It includes a falling piano and a full-size car. It is so big it takes up an entire two-story warehouse. 


  1. The Lemonade Machine– Staring with a rolling lemon and winding its way through the entire kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom of a family home. This Goldberg machine pokes fun at the old saying when life gives you lemons. It ends with the family in the back yard enjoying the lemonade just served up by their very own Rube Goldberg Machine.


  1. The Automatic Weight Reductions Machine– This machine was invented by Rube Goldberg himself. It included a hot stove, a balloon, a bomb, and a donut. He first drew this contraption in 1914 as a way to convince others to lose weight and learn healthier eating habits. 


  1. Daisuke Ball’s Big Adventure– This fun Rube Goldberg Machine turns an ordinary little red ball into a hero, saving two boys from a villain. It includes many different stages and an intriguing story that anyone would enjoy watching. 


  1. Toy Factory – This Rube Goldberg Machine is made from toys, the majority being toy trains and trucks. This machine was so good it was even included in a documentary about the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. 

If you are looking to get your students involved in a hands-on academic contest, the Rube Goldberg Competition is a great option. To learn more about this academic competition and more, Head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.

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