The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest (RGMC) brings the ideas of Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Rube Goldberg's "invention" cartoons to life. This Olympics of Complexity is designed to pull students away from conventional problem-solving and push them into the endless chaos of imagination and intuitive thought. To be specific, groups are given an elementary challenge: something as simple as peeling an apple, sharpening a pencil, or putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. But instead of just "solving" the problem, students have to make the solution as complicated and as convoluted as possible. In fact, the more steps - there's a minimum of twenty - the better the Rube Goldberg Machine. And what a machine! An assemblage of ordinary objects, mechanical gadgets, and the oddest odds and ends are linked together and somehow get to the desired goal.
There is also an article on Ars technica describing the ups and downs of competitors as they compete with gravity and mechanics as much as against each other. Although I suspect that such challenges are preaching to the converted, it is hoped that making them more public events will encourage some fresh minds into the area of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics; sometimes Medicine is added to make STEMM).