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Contest FAQ's

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.

Do I have to draw my cartoon or can I paint it?

You can illustrate your cartoon in any way you like.

Do I have to use the annual task for my invention?

No. You can choose any task or problem for your invention cartoon.

How complicated does my invention have to be?

As complicated as you like as long as your invention has no less than 7 steps and no more than 26.

What is a step?

A step is one transfer of energy in the chain reaction of your invention.

How do I illustrate a step?

Like Rube, use letters to indicate the steps in your invention - minimum A-G (7 steps), maximum steps A-Z (26 steps)

Does my invention have to work?

No. But it must adhere to the laws of gravity. For example, a ball doesn't fall up. But it can drop and bounce up!

How do I make my invention funny?

Use elements in your drawing that would be impossible to create in a real life, working RGM. Let your imagination fly. Rube populated his inventions with animals that have human traits like: asthmatic fleas, a vain octopus, a bored penguin and their characteristics add momentum to the machine. You can also suspend time. For example, (A) palm tree grows, (B) hits a scaffold, and (C) drops coconut... Get inspired by browsing through the gallery of rube's invention cartoons.

How do I submit my cartoon?

Take a scan or photo of your cartoon, save it as a .jpg and follow the instructions on our website.

When is the last day I can send in my invention?

All submissions must be received by midnight EST on April 20, 2023.

Who judges the competition?

The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is judged by a large group of colleagues who work with the Institute, including educators, artists, media, publishing, and entertainment professionals, in addition to members of the National Cartoon Society.

How do I know if I've won?

We will announce the top 20 juried invention cartoons at the Reuben Awards (date TBD), and on our website You will also be contacted by email right after the announcements are posted on our website.

What are the prizes?

- A $50 Visa gift card

- A framed Rube Goldberg print

- Rube swag