Rube Goldberg Competition

We spent all Saturday morning with Brian's 5th grade class at a Rube Goldberg competition. If you aren't familiar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, it is a complex device with numerous steps which performs a simple task. If you played the Mousetrap board game, you've assembled a Rube Goldberg-type machine.

My son's class has been working on this machine for over a month and all the hard work of designing, testing, re-designing, re-testing, writing a technical report, designing brochures, T-shirts, and posters culminated in the local competition where they competed against 5 other machines.

The purpose - create a machine to open the cover and the first page of a book. The machine must also be designed around a theme, complete with a backstory.

Our class decided on a Medieval theme and built it as a large Castle, complete with moat, dragon, princess and brave prince. The machine itself used ramps, dominos, levers, a pendulum and a mouse trap to open the book and turn the page.

Steps 3, 4, 5, 6

Setting Up the Machine

The competition included a Junk Wars theme:
Junk Yard Competition

And Alice in Wonderland:
Alice In Wonderland Theme
The remaining competitors: the Illini team, The Beach Team and The Jungle Team.

Here the kids are setting up right before their performance and judging:
Set up for Judging

The coolest part of the project - everyone in the class participated in the presentation. That's 24 kids to manage and herd!

Here's a quick clip of the machine in action - it goes fast, so pay attention.

The best part? The machine worked during the competition and our team won first place! Now they advance to the Regional competition in two weeks.

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