Annual Improvised Crazy Contraption Contest

In the spirit of Rube Goldberg’s own inspired mind, we invite anyone to build an improvised overly complex contraption to do a simple thing, using materials we have on hand.

Official Contest Rules

For the Improvised Crazy Contraption Contest, the rules will be a bit looser than the BYO Machine Contest.  There will be two main categories:  Yard-sized & Tabletop.  Moreover, an improvised machine does not actually have to perform a useful task to qualify (though, presumably, the judges will be more likely to vote for your contraption if it does!).

Yard-sized Machines

These will be fun!  Think more along the lines of “yard game” more than “machine building.”  There is a large, flat, grassy area set aside for these particular hi-jinks.

I have also amassed a bunch of things that could be used for a larger-size Rube Goldberg contraption.  Please bring more of any/all of these items!  The things I already have include:

  • balls (for rolling, hitting things, floating?)
  • gutter & drain pipe (for balls to roll down/through)
  • large “domino” blocks (for knocking over stuff)
  • rope, cord, string & zip ties
  • pulleys
  • brackets, clips, and clamps
  • buckets
  • wooden mallets
  • a water source (cool, if someone finds a way to use it)
  • electric fans (for blowing things)
  • scrap wood of all sizes and shapes
  • cordless power tools & hand tools
  • screws & nails for building simple frames & supports
  • a kitchen sink
  • And more!  We encourage you to please bring extra pieces/parts!

Of course, the more such materials the better, so we further invite everyone to bring some stuff to add to the pile of pieces/parts for making these ridiculous masterworks!

Tabletop Machines

For folks who prefer a smaller (more intricate?) sort of contraption, we have all the materials listed above, with some of them in appropriately miniature size.  I’m also springing for a couple of cool STEM engineering toy kits to add to the mix.  There will be plenty of tabletop space in the barn to set up and test improvised machines throughout the afternoon.

Please do bring any of these items, if you have them to spare:

    • marbles & “marble machine” parts
    • dominoes
    • balloons
    • toy cars & toy car track
    • pieces of thin rubber sheeting
    • springs
    • glue sticks
    • scotch tape

Beware–your items may get mixed together with other people’s items, so don’t bring anything you aren’t willing to part with, just in case.


Finally, check out these sources for inspiration, ideas, and examples: