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Engineering Design Challenge:
Rube Goldberg

The goal of the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is to encourage critical thinking, creativity, innovation and problem solving in a non-traditional learning event and have fun at the same time. Young people in third through eighth grades can compete in these friendly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competitions that take place at county fairs.

Participants apply their STEM knowledge to solve problems by identifying and researching them, then making and implementing a plan to design a solution. The challenge is designed and supervised by faculty from the University of Minnesota in the STEM Education Center and the Extension Center for Youth Development.

4-H setting up their RGD

Members of the Kragle Konquerors 4-H Rube Goldberg team from Le Sueur County pose with their machine at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. Click image to enlarge.

The 2015 Engineering Design Challenge:

Design and build a Rube Goldberg that puts toothpaste on a toothbrush!

The 4-H Engineering Design Challenge for 2015 was to design and build a machine in the spirit of Rube Goldberg, to put toothpaste on a toothbrush.

The best Rube Goldberg contraptions use everyday items in a whimsical and complicated way to interact as a series of chain-reaction steps to accomplish the simple task. To make their RGs, participants in the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge use physics and engineering principles, employ humor and storytelling, work as a team, consult adult mentors and reflect on their learning. Teams that build a RG and complete the supplementary recordkeeping requirements can show them at their county fair, where they may qualify to be eligible to show their RG at the Minnesota State Fair.

Watch a video about Rube Goldberg designs.

Next year's challenge

Information about the 2016 Engineering Design Challenge will be posted here early in 2016.

About Minnesota 4-H

Minnesota 4-H is a learn-by-doing youth development organization offered throughout the state. Read more about 4-H. The 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is one of many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects that young people can do in 4-H. We encourage critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and problem solving in nonformal learning experiences and we have fun in the process!

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