sealPurdue Science, Engineering & Health Briefs

February 2001

An apple a day the Rube Goldberg way

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Apples are at the core of Purdue University's 13th Annual National Rube Goldberg contest slated for April 7.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be in Purdue's Elliott Hall of Music. Last year, student teams from seven universities competed in the event.

This year's machines must select, clean and peel an apple in 20 steps or more. The entire process must take nine minutes or less. Students traditionally combine principles of physics and engineering with common objects, such as rubber bands, marbles, mouse traps and bicycle gears when building their machines.

Points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Teams also will be judged and awarded points based on the creative use of their materials and use of related themes.

The winner of Purdue's Feb. 10 campuswide contest will represent the university in the National Rube Goldberg Contest April 7 at West Lafayette High School.

The competition honors the late cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. Each year, students accept the challenge to build working machines that Goldberg himself might have dreamed up.

More information is available at two World Wide Web pages:
Theta Tau Fraternity
Purdue University News Service

CONTACT: Fernando Cordero, contest chairman, (765) 743-2623,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS:  Journalists will not be allowed on the stage with the machines during the competition, but they are welcome on stage before and after the contest. Purdue will provide video and photo pool coverage and direct audio and video feeds. An ISDN line is available for radio interviews. Video b-roll, photos and a news release will be available the afternoon of the event. Satellite assistance is available. Video and photographs of past contests are available. If you have questions, contact Jenny Pratt at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,


Bugs a-plenty, bugs galore

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Bugs hissing, bugs racing, bugs in a stew. Bug petting, bug study in a bug zoo. Bugs – and more bugs – are the featured attraction at Purdue University's annual Bug Bowl, April 7-8.

More than 10,000 people are expected to visit Bug Bowl, which offers unusual encounters with insects, bug demonstrations and experts available to offer advice on pest problems.

Events include an insect-themed cake decorating contest, an insects-as-food booth (which will offer, among other taste sensations, insect stir fry), a human caterpillar canter, an insect petting zoo, insect crafts, a butterfly exhibit and – a crowd favorite – cockroach racing at "Roach Hill Downs." New this year will be an exhibit of antique insect toys.

"The petting zoo features a millipede, Madagascar hissing cockroach and a tarantula," said Tom Turpin, professor of entomology. "Although the tarantula is not really a bug, it's a Bug Bowl favorite."

Bug Bowl is one of several events on the Purdue campus that weekend in conjunction with the Purdue Spring Fest. Other activities include the Boiler Barnyard; Boiler Brick Bowl, in which Purdue students compete in building brick structures; a make your own dinosaur bones exhibit; a horticulture show; a space food display and more. For a complete listing of Spring Fest activities, check out the Spring Fest Web site.

CONTACT: Tom Turpin, (765) 494-9061.

Compiled by Jenny Pratt, (765) 494-2079;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page