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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.

What division should my team be in?

To even the playing field, we have separated competitions into 4 different divisions. The Apprentice Division is for elementary school schools, Division I is for middle school, Division II is for high school, and Division III is for collegiate competitors.

How big can we build the machine?

Each division has a different size requirement.

Apprentice Division: 6ft (W) x 6ft (L) x 6ft (H)

Division I: 8ft (W) x 8ft (L) x 8ft (H)

Division II: 10ft (W) x 10ft (L) x 10ft (H)

Division III: 12ft (W) x 12ft (L) x 12ft (H)

Is there a minimum step count?

Yes! The minimum step count varies based on what division you are competing in.

Apprentice Division: 10 steps

Division I: 15 steps

Division II: 20 steps

Division III: 20 steps

Is there a maximum step count?

There is no longer a maximum step count for your machines!

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 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.