Argonne National Laboratory

Students trade in school books for spatulas for 10th Illinois Rube Goldberg Machine Championship

By Jared SagoffMarch 17, 2008

ARGONNE, Ill. — Students from across the state will flip burgers and toss condiments during the 10th annual Illinois State Championship Rube Goldberg machine contest, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Students will compete to build a hamburger using at least 20 steps and include a pre-cooked meat patty, two vegetables and two condiments sandwiched between two bun halves; the burgers must be constructed by a machine hand-built by the students.

The contest will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier.

These student leaders of innovation have prevailed in regional contests and earned the right to be among the final six:

  • Cornerstone Discovery Group High School, Champaign
  • Maine Township High School, Park Ridge
  • Pekin High School, Pekin
  • Alan B. Shepard High School, Palos Heights
  • Stark County High School, Toulon
  • Wilmington High School, Wilmington

The winning team will receive a crystal trophy, emblematic of the Illinois High School State Championship for construction and operation of Rube Goldberg machines and $600 will be donated to the school's science program.

The second-place team will receive a presentation certificate and a $400 donation to the school's science program, and the third place team will receive $200 donation to their schools' science program.

The first and second place teams will advance to the national championships scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Rube Goldberg machine contests are inspired by Reuben Lucius Goldberg, whose cartoons combined simple household items into complex devices to perform trivial tasks. The machines combine the principles of physics and engineering, using common objects such as marbles, mousetraps, stuffed animals and anything else on hand.

Argonne sponsors the championship event in collaboration with the University of Illinois-Urbana, the Chicago Children's Museum, and the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, held annually at Purdue University. The event is licensed by Rube Goldberg, Inc.

“Rube Goldberg” is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg, Inc., which can be reached by fax at (212) 371-3761, by e-mail at or, or on the World Wide Web at

Chicago Children's Museum's mission is to create a community where play and learning connect. For more information about Chicago Children's Museum, call (312) 527-1000 or visit