2020 Annual Rube Goldberg Challenge

Contest Theme Top 20 by 2020

Building a Bridge from the Past to the Future

Humankind has witnessed many impressive engineering breakthroughs throughout the 20th century. In fact, most would argue that the past century has been one of the most remarkable in human history, boasting a host of technological advances, gadgets, and scientific discoveries. From the vacuum cleaner to the nuclear bomb, these feats of engineering have laid the foundation for the modern era.

The 5th annual Rube Goldberg challenge is a homage to the significant technological inventions of the past century.

On the verge of a new era, marked by the year 2020, we invite you to take a trip down memory lane with us, as we dedicate this challenge to the great discoveries of the past century.

The 2020 Rube Goldberg machine must include at least 20 design elements that represent 20 important technological inventions from the 20th century, which have shaped the world and everyday life as we know it. For example: the airplane, television, Internet, radio, antibiotics and automobile.

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, one of the leading institutes of science and engineering in the world, invites you to participate in the 5th Annual Rube Goldberg Machine School Challenge!

About the Challenge

We invite teams of high school students (grades 9-12) from around the world to create a Top 20 for 2020 Rube Goldberg machine.

This challenge encourages students to work collaboratively and to use out-of-the-box problem-solving skills to build a multi-step, chain reaction machine, which creatively incorporates 20 technological inventions of the 20th century.

Mechanical Element

Your Rube Goldberg Machine should be comprised of everyday, recyclable items. It should consist of at least 20 elements that represent the Top 20 by 2020 theme, of which 5-15 elements should be central components of the machine and 5 elements should be incorporated as props (e.g., decorative elements).


A panel of judges, representing the Technion, will select the winning entries. Entries will be evaluated on the basis of the teams’ creative expression of the theme.

 Recognition & Prizes

Videos of the winning entries will be shared on the Technion’s YouTube channel. Winning teams will be awarded the following prizes:

  • First place – One-year full scholarship towards studying at the Technion for each team member*
  • Second place – 3D printer for the high school
  • Third place – Arduino kit

Registration & Submission

Deadline for registration: March 1, 2020, 23:59 (based on local time in Israel)

Deadline for submission: May 1, 2020, 23:59 (based on local time in Israel)

Contact Information & Additional Information

For more information, feel free to contact us at: apply@int.technion.ac.il

* Students must be accepted to the program. The scholarship can be used either during the student’ first or second academic year at the Technion. Students who have won a scholarship previously may compete again but will not be eligible to receive a second scholarship. Can NOT be used in conjunction with other Technion International scholarships or discounts

Rules and Guidelines:


A team consists of 3 to 10 students enrolled in the same school.  Students can be in different grades, however, the team must be all high school students (grades 9-12).  A teacher can serve as an advisor to the project, but all decision making and the building should be done by the students.  Students can either work on the machine at school or at home.


A key Element is and active themed element – A transfer of energy from one action to the next action Identical transfers of energy in succession (e.g. 20 dominoes) are considered one step.

A passive element is a decorative element – prop

The machine must include a minimum of 15 key elements and 5 passive elements

Maximum elements: 50

Examples of key elements in a row:

  • Falling dominoes hit a marble
  • The marble rolls down track triggering a mousetrap at the bottom.
  • Mousetrap snaps and pulls a string tied to it

INTERVENTION:  Any action/touch done by a person to help the machine continue to operate after the machine has begun its run.

Each team must submit:

  1. Team information form (will be sent to all registered groups).
  2. Machine run video: The video must show the machine run in its entirety.  The video can be taken in multiple shots and edited.  If the video is edited, a teacher or administrator must sign a statement on the team information form that attests that the machine worked without any human intervention at least once.
  • Maximum length: 2 minutes
  • If the video includes music, the music must be  legal for use
  1. Element List
    1. The element list should include each energy transfer element, numbered in order.


  1. Mousetrap snaps and pulls a string tied to it
  2. String pulls open a gate
  3. Opening of the gate releases a toy car down a ramp

The elemet list should be in a word doc or pdf file.

Submitting  the material

All materials will be submitted via DropBox. A link will be sent to all the registered groups. The groups will drag all files (video, forms, lists) into the DropBox by May 1, 2020, 23:59 (based on local time in Israel)


Judging Criteria: 100 points possible

 Machine Design

Complexity (25 points ): How many elements the machine includes?

20-30: 15 points

31-40: 20 points

41-50: 25 points

Theme (25 points): How many key elements the machine includes?

5-10: 10 points

11-15: 15 points

16-20: 25 points

Constructions and Artistry (20 points): How well constructed and artistic is the machine?  Does the machine include different types of energy transfers? (Examples: kinetic energy, gravitational energy, electrical energy, magnetic energy, etc.)

Element List (15 points)

How clearly is each element of the machine described?

Key elements List (15 points)

How many key elements are used and how clearly each element is described?


 Helpful websites and videos:

Suggested Materials:

  •  Aluminum foil
  • Plastic containers
  • Cardboard
  • Water bottles
  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Dominoes
  • Funnels
  • Marbles
  • Toy cars
  • String
  • Newspaper
  • Buckets
  • Cups or bowls
  • Books
  • Rubber bands
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Slinky
  • Balloons
  • Modeling clay
  • Straws
  • Plastic cups
  • Tongue depressors
  • Paper tubes
  • Boxes (cereal, other)
  • Cans
  • Balls (ping pong, golf, etc.)
  • Shoelaces
  • Game pieces
  • Wooden train track
  • Wooden trains
  • Marble run tracks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Wax paper
  • Wooden blocks
  • Pull back toys
  • Walking toys

Click here to watch tips on building a Rube Goldberg Machine by Prof. Alon Wolf from the faculty of Mechanical Engineering.