Howard County Library System
2014 HCLS Rube Goldberg Challenge: Put Toothpaste on a Toothbrush

Toothpaste Squeezing Machine
Sponsored by: Friends of Howard County Library System              

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: December 6, 2013 (please note new date)
Awards Ceremony: May 13, 2014

Award Categories
There will be one winner and one honorable mention in each of the following four categories (total of ten winning teams):
  • 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 entry will most effectively communicate in writing how their simple machines function and connect to STEM.
  • Most Humorous – The winning entry will demonstrate the witty use of non-traditional items sequenced to incorporate the element of surprise.
  • Most Complex – The winning entry will incorporate a minimum of eight steps and be judged on the complexity of the design (e.g., number of steps, variety of machines).

In addition, HCLS created a separate category to recognize the hard work of all students who created machines and submitted videos. All submitted videos will be eligible for the Community Favorite Award. Videos will be posted online for community viewing. Viewers will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite “machine.” The winning entry will be determined by the most votes received.

Winning teams will be awarded trophies and certificates. All participants and their families will be invited to attend the celebration event on May 13, 2014 at River Hill High School

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.