March 3: Annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

Twenty Three teams of high school students from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin competed on March 3rd to design the most elaborate and hilarious (but also functional) ways to open an umbrella at the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The regional event lets high school students display their creativity, humor and ingenuity while learning about engineering.

The teams participating compete for a regional title and to qualify for the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on Saturday, April 23 at the Waukesha Country Technical College in Pewaukee, Wis., where teams will compete to become the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Division II champion.

The results of this year’s competition are as follows:
1st Place**:  Beach Bums (Chatfield HS – Chatfield, MN)
2nd Place**:  Time Warp (Christ’s Household of Faith School – St. Paul, MN)
3rd Place:  Sharknado (Christ’s Household of Faith School – St. Paul, MN)
4th Place:  Bad Luck Brians (Christ’s Household of Faith School – St. Paul, MN)
5th Place:  New Prague Rube-E-Os (New Prague HS – New Prague, MN)
**Advance to Nationals

Other fun miscellaneous awards:

  • Best Use of Duct Tape / Most Duct Tape Used:  Rained Out – Southwest Minnesota Christian HS – Edgerton, MN
  • Team that Traveled the Farthest:  Team Elk Mound – Elk Mound HS – Elk Mound, WI
  • Best Drama:  Team Poppins – NRHEG HS – New Richland, MN
  • Most Optimistic:  Beach Bums – Chatfield HS – Chatfield, MN
  • Student’s Choice Award (given to team that best captured the “spirit of Rube Goldberg” and chosen by MSU engineering students) – Time Warp – Christ’s Household of Faith School, St. Paul, MN)

Designed to encourage teamwork and out-of-the-box problem solving for students of all ages, the STEM- (science, technology, engineering and math) and STEAM- (science, technology, engineering, art and math) friendly Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, according to its website, tackles the most mundane tasks and asks participants to create their own overly elaborate and hilariously conceived wacky contraptions that accomplish that task in honor of the competition’s founding father. The first National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest was launched in 1988.

Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was an engineer, sculptor, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who depicted overly complex machines performing simple tasks. The machines that he drew often were impossible to build and operate, but were entertaining because they defied implementation.

To view the KEYC TV news story on the competition: H.S. Students Compete for Most Unique Way to Open Umbrellas Without Hands.