PhysicsLAB Lab
Rube Goldberg Challenge

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The purpose of this event is to design a device, aka, machine, that will, in as close to 10 seconds, trap an initial golf ball and release a final, second golf ball. Each machine must use at least one (1) domino. The timing begins at the instant the first ball is released and ends when the second ball leaves the surface of the lab table. Your machine must run for a minimum of 2 seconds.
You must keep your machine "running" throughout the contest. If you employ periodic motion, each instance is only allowed to include one complete revolution or vibration. If you use dominos, each "domino chain" counts as only one collision. You are not allowed to use either AC or DC electricity.
On the day of the contest, you must bring in a "professional diagram" of your machine. Your labeled diagram must include a key that designates the location of each momentum exchange and each energy exchange. You are NOT allowed to modify the design once the contest begins and you see what other groups have designed. You must build your machine according to your proposed design.
On the day of the contest, all teams will have 85 minutes to build their machines. Once the first team begins, no one can continue building. Each team will be allowed up to three releases, the best one will be considered your final score. All teams must tear down their apparatus before leaving and put away their equipment.
Each team will begin with 50 points. From that total the following points will be added or subtracted.
  • +15 for your professional diagram
  • +10 for a step-by-step mathematical calculation of the time your apparatus will run that comes within 0.75 seconds of the actual run time
  • +10 for taking down your apparatus and cleaning up your equipment
  • +2 for each momentum exchange
  • +2 for each energy exchange
  • +15 for a run time between 9.5 and 10.5 seconds or between 50 and 60 seconds
  • +10 for a run time between 9.0 and 9.5 seconds or between 10.5 and 11.0 seconds
  • +5 for a run time between 8.0 and 9.0 seconds or between 11.0 and 12.0 seconds
  • +0 for a run time between 6.0 and 8.0 seconds or between 12.0 and 14.0 seconds
  • -50 for not participating
  • -10 for not taking down your apparatus and cleaning up your equipment
  • -15 for a time between 0 and 2 seconds or between 18 and 50 seconds or anything greater than 60 seconds
  • -10 for a time between 2 and 4 seconds or between 16 and 18 seconds
  • -5 for a time between 4 and 6 seconds or between 14 and 16 seconds
Scores are based on 100 points.
  • 1 table surface with trapeze
  • 2-3 golf balls
  • 2-3 marbles
  • 1 up to 20 dominos
  • 1 ring stand
  • 1-2 test tube holders
  • 1-2 c-clamps
  • up to 3 metersticks
  • up to 2 grooved plastic rulers
  • 1 wooden shelf
  • up to 4 meters track/molding
  • up to 2 meters clear packing tape
  • one mailing tube
  • up to 20 feet white twine
  • 1 torque bridge (see-saw)
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • up to 10 giant paper clips
Plus any pre-approved materials that you want to bring from home.

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Catharine H. Colwell
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