Fourth & Fifth Grade

Annual Rube Goldberg Contest

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was an engineer, inventor, cartoonist and sculptor. Born in 1883 in San Francisco, Rube Goldberg began practicing his art skills at the age of four when he traced illustrations from the humorous book History of the United States. Rube Goldberg's invention cartoons were largely influenced by the "machine age" at the beginning of the century and by the complex new mechanisms invented to simplify life. Electricity, running water, telephones and the automobile were changing the way people lived and worked. New mechanical inventions for simplifying life were flooding the U.S. patent office. There were inventions for everything from automatic hat tippers to motorized shoe polishers. Rube Goldberg believed that most people preferred doing things the hard way instead of using a more simple and direct path to accomplish a goal. In the words of the inventor, the machines were a "symbol of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results." His drawings became so well known that Webster's Dictionary defined the term rube goldberg as "accomplishing by extremely complex, roundabout means what seemingly could be done simply."

Rube Goldberg Contest

Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 at 6pm

104 Bavington Road

Burgettstown, PA

See Mrs. Baloga for information

Simple Machines

§ Incline: a ramp or slanted surface (i.e.: slide, stairs)

§ Wedge: shaped like an incline, but a moving incline (i.e.: nail, ax)

§ Screw: a cylindrical body with a helical groove cut into its surface (i.e.: bolt threads)

§ Lever: a bar that pivots upon a point called the fulcrum (i.e.: stapler, shovel, see saw)

§ Axle and Wheel: a wheel rotating about a fixed axle to bear a load. A gear is a wheel with teeth on it.

§ Pulley: consists of a wheel and axle with a grove on the outside of the wheel in which a rope runs to change direction of a load. Used to raise and lower weights.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version - Official

Rules for Participation


  • Each team must submit a copy of a description and drawing of its machine by May 18th to Mrs. Baloga.
  • All machines will be displayed and operated in the space provided at the contest. Only team members may participate in the machine setup. Each team is responsible for the security of its own machine. Intentional destructive action against other machines is cause for disqualification
  • During the contest, the machine must complete a full cycle
Parent Participation:

  • All written work must be completed by students. 85 – 90 % of the machine must be completed by the students. Parents are encouraged to lend a hand with building the machine, but please remember that it is the student’s project and they will have to operate the contraption at the judging.