Rube Goldberg is one of our design heroes. He wasn’t interested in the efficient, easy way of accomplishing a task. Instead, Mr. Goldberg got creative by going complicated – insanely, fantastically, whimsically complicated. He invented chain reaction contraptions that do something simple, like opening a book or throwing a piece of trash away.

For this month’s challenge, we want you to invent a complex contraption that performs a super simple task and upload it to the Invent page by May 31 at midnight EST.

Here are a few rules you ^*~must~*^ follow to submit to this challenge:

  1. Once you start your machine, it needs to be able to run without any help from you. Each step has to be triggered automatically by the step before it.
  2. Your machine must have at least three transitions. A transition has an input and an output. For example, a marble rolling down a ramp and hitting a button that triggers a sound is one transition. More transitions = more fun. We promise.
  3. You must include a video that (1) states the goal of your machine or what task it will perform; (2)

Check out these PRO TIPS for documenting your machine.

Three winners will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges. She or he will receive a power-packed combo of Bits and status: a kit of your choice up to $200, a featured post in our Inventor Spotlight, and the opportunity to judge or help create future design challenges. Multiple entries are encouraged 🙂




Adam Sadowsky
Adam Sadowsky is the president of Syyn Labs — a collective of talented people that bring aesthetics and engineering together to create really nifty interactive art. Syyn Labs is responsible for a potpourri of interesting gizmos, from augmented reality namebadges to sound-reactive fire sculpture, but are best known for the huge Rube Goldberg machine created for OK Go’s music video “This Too Shall Pass” that instantly went viral via YouTube.


Donald Drake
Donald Drake of Donald Drake Machines has produced 252 chain reaction machine videos (youtube.com/apollyphelion), over 3 hours of footage in total. Inspired by the seminal Japanese chain-reaction series Pitagora Suichi, Drake began constructing his own machines in 2007 at his home in Connecticut, bringing a fine-tuned surrealism and associative sensibility to this art genre. He moved to Germany in 2009 to continue his work in Berlin’s vibrant art scene, appearing at the Direktorenhaus, English Theatre Berlin and other venues to build machines live with musical accompaniment. Drake’s work has also been featured on Japanese network television and Canal + in France. Most of his video library will launch in summer 2016 on Toca TV, a children’s video app.



Les Intergalactiques: Le Labo Post-Eco – Machine de Rube Goldberg by conniechowpetit

We were invited to participate at the Festival of Science-Fiction in Lyon with the wonderful theme of time travel. We decided to create a Rube Goldberg machine workshop with littleBits, recycled material, and our collective imagination, to travel space and time together 😉


The first virtual Rube-Goldberg Machine by matthias.m.wolf

This is the first prototype of a virtual Rube-Goldberg Machine, meaning that certain parts of the chain reaction are taking place in virtual space a.k.a. “The Internet”…Wouldn’t it be awesome to build a worldspanning Rube-Goldberg Machine? Who wants to join?


Rube Goldberg Machine by RDM Makerspace

Not even Rube himself could have foreseen the awesomeness that the Internet of Things would bring to these creations.

Invent a Chain Reaction Contraption: The Waker Upper 5000 by kknight

Attention parents everywhere!! The Waker Upper 5000 is here to save your mornings. No more struggling with your kids to get them to wake up. Simply turn on the light and your child will be jolted awake by the ever persistent and ever annoying WAKER UPPER 5000!


Chain Reaction Contraption: Challenge Guide

Need a little more help getting started? This Challenge Guide will get your mechanisms rolling and blinking in no time.

Chain Reaction Contraption Lesson Guide

We love, Love, LOVE (I really can’t stress this enough) this challenge in the classroom. It is super simple to adapt it for a variety of learning goals, ages, and subject areas.

Chain Reaction Contraption Workshop Guide

Wanna run an epic workshop? Use this guide for inventors of all ages.


Any questions? Check out the forums or drop us an email at community[at]littlebits.cc


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