Rube Goldberg Machine Competition in Durham Seeks Teen Competitors

A Rube Goldberg Machine accomplishes a simple task in a complicated – and crazy – way
Rube Goldberg 1

The Bull City Robotic Rodeo is coming to Durham, Feb. 1-3, 2019, at The Durham Convention Center and Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theater. Aside from numerous fun attractions at this new Steampunk, sci-fi-meets-wild-west fan experience, the Robotic Rodeo is a proud host of the official 2019 Rube Goldberg Machine Competition for middle and high school age divisions. Home school groups are also invited to participate.

Since 1988, thousands of students have celebrated Rube’s legacy by creating Rube Goldberg Machines in the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, and they’ve learned — and laughed – a lot. On a formal basis, this learning experience now falls under the category of STEM/STEAM (science, technology engineering, art and math) education — something that came naturally to Rube, who was trained as an engineer but was an inventor and artist at heart.

What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?

A Rube Goldberg Machine is a crazy contraption that accomplishes a simple task in the most complicated – and funniest – way possible. Based on the “Invention” cartoons of the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning American cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, these machines use everyday items (mostly junk) to work, to tell a story and, most important – to make people laugh. Remember the "Truffle Shuffle" scene in "The Goonies" movie, when Mikey opens his front gate for Chunk by starting a contraption involving a bowling ball, balloon, chicken, football, sprinkler and more? That's a Rube Goldberg Machine. Here's a video that shows how they work. 

What is a Rube Goldberg Machine Contest?

A Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is an event where students of all ages compete with the machines they have imagined, designed and created in a fun and competitive forum. The competitions encourage teamwork and out-of-the-box problem solving in a fresh learning environment and on a level playing field. To compete in a Rube Goldberg Machine Contest all you need is a good imagination and a pile of junk.

Registration and Team Details

Contestants will present their machines during the Bull City Robotic Rodeo at the Durham Convention Center. Convention attendees will be admitted to spectate the competition. Registered contestants (and their team leaders) will receive free passes to the event. Team members will also receive one additional Sunday-only pass for a family member or friend, too. Winning teams will be invited to speak on a panel to a room full of prop makers, engineers and other creative builders after the competition. They will also be honored at the event's closing ceremonies. Register for Division I (ages 11-14) here or Division II (ages 14-18) here by Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. This year's task is: "Put money in a piggy bank." The contest is limited to 10 teams in each age group.

For more information about the 2019 Rube Goldberg contest, click here.


Categories: Education, Festivals, Teens, Things To Do