What is a “Rube Goldberg”?

People usually like to keep things simple and do things the easy way, but yet people all around are fascinated by the complexity of Rube Goldberg machines. Named after Rube Goldberg, a cartoonist who depicted people in an over-engineered world, Rube Goldberg machines are essentially mechanical chain reactions. By definition, a Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately over-complicated or overdone contraption that performs a simple task in a very complex fashion.

The following pictures and videos depict various Rube Goldberg machines, including an advanced one by “OK Go” and a simple one done by a student.

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This cartoon (above) shows the complexity of a Rube Goldberg machine that completes the simple task of wiping with a napkin.

The music video (above) for OK Go uses a complicated Rube Goldberg machine with an extravagant combination of events to shoot paint at the band members.

This is a much shorter, yet still effective, example of a successful Rube Goldberg machine used to pour milk into a bowl of cereal.

Unfortunately, messy materials such as loose paint (as seen in the “OK Go” video) are not allowed, and size is limited.  However, this does not mean you can’t make a great Rube Goldberg.  So go out there and be creative — put your ingenuity to the test!  We look forward to seeing what you can do.