Please Note: These are the rules for a previous Philly Contraption Contest. We will post updated rules when details for the next Philly Contraption Contest become available.
For any questions or clarifications on the rules, please email email@example.com.
The task for the Philly Contraption Contest is: Play a musical instrument.
There must be at least three members on each team. All team members must be full-time students. Teams must have a parent/guardian or teacher advisor, and only one adult can help the team set up the machine on the day of the event.
Teams will be divided by age division. Division I is high school. Division II is grades 4 through 8. These divisions will be judged separately.
Teams may be formed in homeschooling groups, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, church youth groups, etc., in addition to at schools.
Each team will enter a Rube Goldberg-style machine that completes the assigned task: Play a musical instrument.
To be a part of the competition, a machine must have a minimum of 20 steps for Division I (older kids) and 10 steps for Division II (younger kids). Maximum height is eight feet. And the machine must fit inside a 10’x10′ square.
The machine must finish its run within two minutes. Each machine will be run twice for the judges. Prior to starting the machine, each team must deliver an oral presentation. In addition to being part of the storytelling process — each machine should tell a story — the team should also use the oral presentation to explain the steps in the machine.
Each machine will be provided with one 120V power source upon request. An air compressor will be available outside for fills before runs; it cannot be used indoors or during a run. Water lines cannot be run to the machines, but water is available for filling vessels and containers before runs.
Machines are not allowed to include any hazardous materials, live animals, flames or explosives. And as this is a family-friendly event for children, machines and presentations should not contain any profanity or other offensive language or images. Any machines found to be in violation will be immediately disqualified.
Teams will have approximately two hours to set up their machines in the venue.
Each team will present their machine to the judges twice.
Judges will grade the machines and teams on a variety of criteria including absurdity, number of steps (the more the better!), teamwork, the effective use of a story or theme, completion of the task, and the use of everyday objects.
After judging, teams are required to run their machines for spectators. Teams should engage the spectators and answer questions. A team may be disqualified if it does not participate in the public demonstrations.
Winners will be announced the day of the event. In addition to the main awards in each age division, there will also be a People’s Choice category based on spectator votes.
Prizes will be awarded: $500 first place, $250 second place, $100 first place in each division. Note that if fewer than three teams fail to compete in a given division, the awards will decrease to reflect the number of teams competing, i.e. if two only two teams actually compete, first prize is $250 and second prize is $100.