Howard County Library System
2015 HCLS Rube Goldberg Challenge: Crush and Recycle an Empty Soft Drink Can

Toothpaste Squeezing MachineSponsored by: Friends of Howard County Library System and M&T Bank.

As part of the A+ Partners in Education initiative, HCLS and HCPSS present the Rube Goldberg Challenge. Named after the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author, the contest is offered to school teams comprised of fourth and fifth grade Howard County students. The students transform everyday materials into a wacky innovative machine that accomplishes the given task. However, instead of just "solving" the problem, students are charged with making the solution as complicated and convoluted as possible. By designing and building the machine, students incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts into their creations. Simple machine classes were taught at HCLS branches during the school year.

This year's challenge is to put toothpaste on a toothbrush. To accomplish the challenge, students:
  • Incorporated the use of a minimum of three different simple machines with the option of using all simple machines.
  • Recorded a video of their invention while it performs the task of putting toothpaste on a toothbrush.
  • Documented how they used science, technology, engineering, and math in developing their machine.
  • Submitted the video and documents for judging.

Rules and Requirements
Intent to Participate Form

Important Dates
Registration deadline: November 21, 2014 (please note new date)
Awards Ceremony: May 12, 2015

Award Categories
A first, second and third place award is given in each of the the following categories. (Total of twelve awards)
  • Most Green – The winning entry will utilize the most variety everyday recycled materials and items, based on a master list included in the documentation of recyclable materials based on Howard County's Recycling Guide for County Collections.
  • Most Scientific – The winning entries will most effectively communicate in writing how their simple machines function and connect to STEM.
  • Most Humorous – The winning entries will demonstrate the witty use of non-traditional items sequenced to incorporate the element of surprise.
  • Most Complex – The winning entries will incorporate a minimum of eight steps and be judged on the complexity of the design (e.g., number of steps, variety of machines).

Community Favorite Award
In addition, to recognize the hard work of all students who created machines and submitted videos, a Community Favorite Award will be given based on popular vote.  Students' videos will be posted online beginning May 5, 2014 and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite “machine” through May 11, 2014.   The entry that receives the most votes will receive the award.

Winning teams will be awarded trophies and certificates. All participants and their families will be invited to attend the celebration event on May 12, 2015.

Study Aids
Levers Lessons
Pulley Lesson
Pulley - Word Find
Inclined Plane and Simple Machine - Forces Review
Introducing Rube Goldberg Lesson
Forces and Simple Machines
Student samples - Rube Goldberg designs
Worksheets and Worksheet Instructions
Simple Machines Song
Simple Machines Exploration Lesson Plan
Simple Machines FAQ
Simple Machines Inside and Out
Online "Labs"
"Quiz" on Simple Machines
Simple Machines for Kids
Fun Car Facts For Kids: Simple Machines Used In Automobiles

More information found at a web site recommended by teacher, Lisa Phillips.

2014 Winning Teams
Watch the 2014 teams' videos