2014 Rube Goldberg Challenge: Put Toothpaste on a Toothbrush
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Rube Goldberg and what is the Rube Goldberg Challenge?
The contest, named after the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author, is offered to school teams comprised of fourth and fifth grade Howard County students. Students transform everyday materials into a wacky innovative machine that accomplishes the given task. But instead of just solving the problem, students have to make the solution as complicated and as convoluted as possible.
What is the benefit of participating in the Rube Goldberg Challenge?
By creating the machine, students incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts. Simple machine classes are taught at Howard County Library System branches during the school year.
Who can participate?
Howard County fourth and fifth grade students who attend a school that has a Teacher Advisor and is registered to take part in the challenge. School registration is voluntary. Interested teachers must submit an Intent to Participate Form.
If you are a teacher from a private or home school association and are interested in participating, please contact Kelli Shimabukuro at 410.313.7763 or email@example.com
How do you participate?
School teams must complete a task; this year’s task is squeezing an orange. Teams will incorporate the use of a minimum of three different simple machines with the option of using all simple machines. Students will record their invention performing the task of squeezing an orange, and document in writing how they used science, technology, engineering, and math in developing their machine. Teams must submit the video and written document to be judged. Winners' videos will be linked from HCLS' web site.
Why isn't my school participating?
Participation in the challenge is not mandatory. It is each Howard County school’s decision whether or not to participate.
What is the responsibility of a Teacher Advisor?
The Teacher Advisor instructs students on how simple machines work, approve the team’s plan, is present when the machine is being built, and is present when the team videos the machine completing the task. Teacher Advisors will be given the Rules and Regulations to follow.
Can a parent be a Teacher Advisor?
HCPSS and private school teachers are the only teacher advisors for public and private schools. Home school students must work in a team consisting of other fourth and fifth grade students led by a Teacher Advisor (responsible adult educator). This is to ensure that the students are contributing to and creating the machine and to monitor safety.
Can parents assist?
Parents may assist Teacher Advisors at the school. They should contact their school's Teacher Advisor to see if assistance is needed.
How many teams may participate?
All teams from participating schools that register between October 21 and November 1, 2013 may participate.
How do I register?
Teacher Advisors must download and fax the Intent to Participate form at hclibrary.org/rubegoldberg between October 21 and November 1, 2013.
What is the deadline for submitting the videos and documentation?
All videos and documentation must be submitted by 9 pm on April 22, 2014. Entries should be saved to a DVD or flash drive and mailed to:
Attn: Rube Goldberg Challenge
Howard County Library System
6600 Cradlerock Way
Columbia, MD 21045
What if my school isn’t participating? Is there anything else I can do?
Howard County Library System will offer simple machine classes for children in the fall. Simple machines are necessary to squeeze an orange for the Rube Goldberg Challenge. Please check our class schedule for dates and times.
There will be one winner and one honorable mention in each of the following four categories (total of ten winning teams):
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.
Are there prizes?
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.
Check back to this page for periodic updates.