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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.

Does our machine have to complete the task?

Yes. The last step in your machine must complete the annual task.

How big can we build the machine?

Any size. You can build on a table-top, in a room or in several rooms, in and out of buildings, or totally outside. Anything you can dream of! Just make sure we can follow the steps of your machine as it runs.

Is there a minimum or maximum step count?

This contest has no step limits. We do however encourage you to keep your machine runtime, including your introduction, under 4 minutes.

What kind of introduction do we need for our machine?

Let us know who you are, where you're from, the theme of your machine, and whatever else you'd like us to know before we watch your machine in action. But please do not walk us through the steps - we will see all of them in your machine run.

How do we film our machine?

Most people use their mobile phone to film, but any camera that shoots in clear, high quality, digital video is good. Things to remember when filming:

- Lighting: make sure that the light is good when filming so we can see your machine

- Perspective: shoot horizontally

- Filming: make sure to follow each step as the machine runs so we can see it

- Editing: we prefer to see your RGM in a single pass with no edits. Sometimes this isn't possible, but try!

- Task: always focus on the final step in your machine, that shows judges that you've completed the annual RGMC task

How do you judge the machines?

In this international competition we look for the most creative and entertaining Rube Goldberg Machines. Wow us. Try not to rely solely on chain reactions that we've seen before like marble and domino runs. Use everyday objects in your transfers of energy that engage and surprise us. And if you can, make us smile. The funnier your RGM, the better.

How do we make our machine funny?

Funny usually begins with the theme of your machine. Try to tell us a story through your RGM. One of the funniest machines we've seen in competition told the history of the world, from the Big Bang to the apocalypse - and in the end completed the task to WATER A PLANT. Just from the get-go, that machine was funny! And as your machine runs, it should tell a story in the most ridiculous way possible. Try to keep in mind that story-telling is usually done in 3 acts and unfolds in a similar way to a chain reaction. The first act is an introduction and the problem is identified. The second act is where the problem peaks. And the third act, through a series of heroic actions, the problem resolves! Funny can take the form of adding people into your machine, or employing the family pet to participate. And finally, the more random the objects in your machine, the funnier the machine will be. Get inspired by countless Rube Goldberg Machines on our YouTube channel or go to the gallery of Rube's invention cartoons. There's no shortage of "funny" in the world of Rube Goldberg!

Who are the judges for this contest?

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, plus every year a team from our annual task sponsor.

When is the deadline to enter?

All submissions must be received by midnight EST on March 22, 2022

How do we know if we won?

We will announce the top 10 juried RGM's on April 22, 2022 at You will also be contacted by email after the announcements post on our website.

What do we win?

The builders of top 10 Rube Goldberg Machines will win:

- A $200 Visa gift card

- An award plaque

- RGMC-2022 stickers & buttons

What is the People's Choice Award?

After we announce the Top 10 RGM's, then it's up to you - the people. You will have one week to vote for your favorite machine from the Top 10. Voting instructions will be on our website.

Who wins the People's Choice and what are the prizes?

The 3 teams with the most votes will win. Winners will be announced on our website.

- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies

- A $200 donation to the vetted charity of your choice

- An assortment of Rube Swag for each member of the team