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Frequently Asked Questions

We do a lot of things at the Institute and get a lot of questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked. Not seeing your question here? Contact us.

My child loves to tinker and build stuff. Which contest is right for her?

I'm not sure how old your daughter is, but if she's old enough to build and tinker, I think she would enjoy our original Rube Goldberg Machine Contest® which we've run for 30+ years. Since the beginning we've seen the kids who build and compete get younger and younger - and the machines get better and better. You might also consider building your machine as a family, and even the family pet can join in too!

I'm a 4th grade teacher and I would love to add Rube Goldberg to my lessons on simple machines. Where should I start?

Check out Rube Resources and you'll find everything you'll need to use Rube in your classroom. The Institute also offers free lesson plans that attach to both of our picture books, downloadable activity cards, lesson plans, projects and paper engineering - all of which are easily integrated into your STEM curriculum.

My son is a big Minecraft fan, but we don't have Minecraft.edu. Can he still participate?

Yes! NASEF, the sponsor of the Rube Goldberg/Minecraft Big Build Challenge®, provides free downloads of Minecraft.edu.

I want to mentor a team of kids and enter a live Rube Goldberg Machine Contest®. Are there any live competitions near me?

That depends where you are! For the 2022-23 competition year there will be three live sponsored events: East Coast, Mid-West, and West Coast. The locations and dates will be announced on our website and social handles in the Fall, along with the 2023 annual task. Note: space is limited to 10 teams per event, so reserve your spot early. If you can't get your team and machine to one of the live sponsored contests, check out the Rube Goldberg STEM Challenge® and consider hosting your own!

Is there a summer camp program for kids who like to Rube? If so, can you send me info?

We offer a summer Rube Goldberg iBlocks® program with TEQ and Teaching Things, Inc. For information, email us at rube@rubegoldberg.com.

I want to have a Rube Goldberg themed birthday party for my son. He's turning 9. Any suggestions?

What a great way to celebrate turning 9, or any other age! Check out our Rube Goldberg Speed Build Bag® - perfect for 3-15 builders and it comes with all the elements to build 2 machines: one that traps a mouse, and another that pops a balloon. All you need is a big table with a pile of random junk on it, add the contents of the bag, and let the fun begin!

I love what you do at the Rube Goldberg Institute. How do I get involved?

There are many ways to engage with The Institute and are always looking for mentors, hosts, interns and support from organizations who believe in equity and access in STEM and arts education. For more information please contact rube@rubegoldberg.org.

I want to host a contest as a team-builder for my corporate colleagues. Is this possible?

Yes! We encourage you to check out the Rube Goldberg STEM Challenge®, which is designed for museums, libraries, camps, or corporate team-building initiatives.

After I build, film and submit my Rube Goldberg Machine® to the contest, will anyone from your organization see it? And will it get posted to Rube Goldberg TV?

Yes and yes! Every submission to our contest gets seen by members of our organization and if your machine gets into the top tier of the selection process, it will get posted on our YouTube channel, Rube Goldberg TV.

How do I arrange to have a Zoom in the classroom with Jennifer George?

Jennifer George, Rube’s granddaughter and Chief Creative Officer of The Institute, is available to do Zoom classroom sessions with any school or group that is participating in one of the current contests. For more information contact deb@rubegoldberg.org.

I need a hi-res image of a Rube Goldberg Cartoon that I saw in the gallery. Is there a fee and who should I contact?

We license all of Rube Goldberg’s original drawings, and based on its use there are sliding scales for payment, including a free educational option. For more information contact kathleen@rubegoldberg.org.

Are there safety guidelines for building Rube Goldberg Machines?

Yes, there are. Safety is our first priority and we ask that tools, heavy and/or sharp objects and electrical components be used with care and adult supervision, especially when younger children are involved in the build. We ask that goggles be used if objects fly during the machine-run. There are no explosives, flammable items, or toxic chemicals allowed. And if an animal or human is integrated into the machine, they must be treated with care and respect.

Can a machine or drawing be disqualified from your contests? And if so, why?

Yes. There is a code of conduct that applies across the board for all of our contests.