This year’s challenge required teams from across the country to water a plant in no more than two minutes, using a minimum of 20 steps. The goal of the Rube Goldberg contest is to devise a machine, inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Reuben Goldberg’s drawings of fantastical machines, that uses as many steps as possible to perform a task. The Blue Devils team’s machine, called “The Westing Estate,” told the story of a haunted Louisiana mansion and performed the watering task in 135 steps.
Penn State took second place and the University of Texas won third. In the high school competition, the team from New Auburn School (New Auburn, Wisc.), took top honors for its "Toys on Task" device (more on this below).
UW-Stout’s first run of three runs was voided because of a set-up error. On its second run required one intervention. The machine’s third and final run was flawless.
“To even have a shot at winning, we knew we had to have a perfect third run and we got it,” said co-captain Andrew Behnke, a senior. “Our whole team was excited. Everybody was jumping up and down. “The competition was good. We thought we might place second, with a 25 to 30 percent chance at winning.”
Other team members are co-captain Ian Billings, an early childhood education major from Loyal, Wisc.; Neal Belcher, a retail merchandising management major from Park Falls; and Jacob Shultz, an applied science major from Chetek.
UW-Stout hadn’t posted a video of this year’s winning entry as of Monday March 28, but here’s a video of their winning 2010 entry:
The theme of Penn State’s machine was one of the university’s football games. Sprinklers watered the field, under the watchful gaze of coach Joe Paterno. Here's how that machine worked:
The 12-member New Auburn Trojans took top honors for the third time with their “Toys on Task”machine, which took 42 steps to complete its objective. Rod Stetzler, writing in the Chippewa Herald, described the challenge:
"It was a gamble that the 12-member New Auburn High School team didn’t have to take. Two other high schools in the same situation decided to play it safe and sit things out.But with a national title possibly on the line, co-captains Everett Sarauer and Dan Pitts decided go ahead with making a third run of the team’s entry in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.Taking the risk and winning outweighed possibly losing, Pitts said.Forty-two steps later, New Auburn completed its third flawless run with its “Toys on Task” machine."
New Auburn team (pictured, below) defeated 13 other teams from 10 states, including California, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Wisconsin
Rube Goldberg's granddaughter, Jennifer George, who is the organization's Legacy Director, was on hand at the competition and announced the 2012 task: Inflate a balloon and pop it.