Need a 'Wonderful' Distraction During the Pandemic? Here It Is

Competitors invited to invent gadget that gets soap to your germy hands in 10 to 20 steps
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 10:16 AM CDT

We've been told to scrub our hands for a full 20 seconds to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. But can you think of a way to make the hand-scrubbing process even longer? That's the gist of the Rube Goldberg "Bar of Soap" challenge, promoted by none other than the famous cartoonist's granddaughter, Jennifer George. As the New York Times notes, the competition is being held in the spirit of Goldberg, who was renowned for his illustrations of elaborately nonsensical gadgets made to complete simple tasks. What's involved: build a contraption that will, in 10 to 20 steps, drop a bar of soap into your waiting, germ-laden hands.

"All you have to do is build a machine, get it working and film it in one pass, upload the link to YouTube, and send us the link," says George, the legacy director of Rube Goldberg Inc., in a video promoting the contest. The 60-year-old—who says her grandfather only drew his inventions and never actually built them—tells the Times that she thought the contest would be "some fun, wonderful distraction for families that are at home right now." Rolling submissions will be accepted through May 31. Three winners will be chosen by mid-June, with each victor taking home a "prize packet" with Goldberg-branded swag. Videos of their inventions will be posted on the Rube Goldberg website. (Read more Rube Goldberg machine stories.)

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