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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As students are settling into their new routines at school, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about how to enrich their current curriculum and add a little fun to keep them motivated. Academic competitions offer students the ideal setting to work independently and build real-life skills, all while doing something that interests them. 

All academic competitions have their own unique advantages, but for 2021 the new Digital Rube Goldberg Machine Minecraft Contest is one students are sure to love.


How is the Digital Rube Goldberg Machine Minecraft Contest different? 

This collaboration between Rube Goldberg Inc. and Minecraft allows students to learn new skills while playing a game they already love. During this competition, students will participate in weekly tutorials. In these tutorials, teams will learn from the best in the industry how to build simple machines that actually work. 

The hands-on nature of these by-weekly lessons leaves most kids looking forward to learning more. At the end of the six courses, students will link their simple machines to make one big machine that leads to a fun and engaging chain reaction. 

Once students have tinkered with their chain reaction to perfection, they submit their masterpiece to the digital contest.


What will students learn from the Goldberg Machine Minecraft Contest?

Hands-on-skills- This competition offers students a unique opportunity to take something created in the digital world and use their own ingenuity to build a model. This is a skill that will serve them well throughout school and into adulthood. 

The power of their imagination- Because Rube Goldberg and Minecraft are imagination-based, this academic competition gives students the ultimate freedom to dream big and build even bigger. 

Participants are encouraged to think outside-the-box and elaborate on the tutorials given to make their finished project a personalized work of art.

Hands-on application of STEM – Building a model looks like fun and games on the surface, but the beauty of this contest is that it will also require students to learn and practice math, chemistry, and physics skills. 

Even better, because students are using these concepts in a real-life way, they are more likely to retain the information they learn, putting them ahead when using this knowledge in school and life. 

Teamwork- The ability to work with others is essential for success in life. However, collaboration is a skill that can be hard to learn in a classroom setting. Academic competitions like the Rube Goldberg Minecraft contest are the perfect place to teach kids the complex skills involved in teamwork like leadership, compromise, listening, and trust. 

The importance of small, consistent action – The entire Rube Goldberg Minecraft competition is structured around the idea of building small pieces of a larger puzzle. Students will work one piece at a time until the end, when they have six individual projects that will come together as one. 

While this concept may be a bit abstract, it is very important for students to understand as they grow into college and adulthood. Often, as adults, we tackle large challenges like getting a dream job or buying a house.

Much like a Rube Goldberg Machine, these milestones require small and consistent actions towards a concrete outcome. This idea is made clear when students see the impact of their hard work on small pieces building into a final project, they can be proud to present to the world. 

How does the Rube Goldberg Minecraft Contest work?

The 2021 Digital Rube Goldberg Machine Minecraft Contest will start with a preseason to prepare students for the competition. During this time, students’ teams will complete six mini-building challenges within the Rube Goldberg Minecraft digital world. 

After machines are designed, teams will submit their simple machines via Flipgrid so all participants can see the innovations and creativity of one another. 

As mentioned above, there are six mini-challenges teams will be guided through; these challenges are: 

  1. Building an inclined plane.
  2. Building a pulley system.
  3. Designing a screw system.
  4. Learning how to create a machine wedge in the Minecraft Stream.
  5. Learning how to create a machine wheel and axle.
  6. Finally, how to make a lever in the Minecraft Stream.

These mini-challenges are all stand-alone projects that, when completed, come together to form one big Rube Goldberg Machine. 

Rube Goldberg Minecraft


As you can see, the Rub Goldberg Machine Minecraft contest is a fun, educational, and hands-on experience teachers, students, and their parents will love. 

The preseason has already begun, so don’t wait! Register for the Rube Goldberg Machine Minecraft Contest today. 

If you aren’t used to Minecraft, and like a more tangible, hands-on Rube Goldberg Experience, don’t miss the 2020-21 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest either!




If your ready to have fun and learn new skills along the way, 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.

See more than one academic competition you would like to participate in? Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.