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Photos: Battle of the Rube Goldberg machines

Penn State recently held a contest for Rube Goldberg machines, which do a simple task in a complex manner. The winner? A Super Mario-themed device.

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CNET Reviews staff
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1 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

Rube Goldberg machine winner

Pennsylvania State University recently held a competition for Rube Goldberg machines, which undertake a simple task in an overly complex manner. For this particular challenge, each team was tasked with building a device that utilizes a complicated engineering solution to reach the end result of replacing an ordinary lightbulb with a more efficient light source.

Here, a spectator looks at the first-place winner, which is themed after the Super Mario video game series and comes complete with a castle, mushrooms, green pipes, and even an old SNES console connected to it.

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2 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

Ana Medina

Ana Medina, a member of Penn State's Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, places a component of her team's human body-themed Rube Goldberg device before the contest begins. Four teams competed in the challenge.
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3 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers gather around their entry in the 2009 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.
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4 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Penn State engineering students Andrew Deihl and Brianne Wilburne, both seniors, prepare their American Society of Mechanical Engineers team entry for competition.
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5 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

Derek Stoecklein

Derek Stoecklein, a freshman, sets up part of his team's Rube Goldberg device, themed "Construction Zone."
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6 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

Batman

The team that nabbed second place chose a "Batman" theme in its complicated approach to replacing a typical lightbulb with a modern, energy-efficient type. Their solution featured visible electrical energy, such as the visible contained electrical arc in the center.
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7 of 7 Andy Colwell/Pennsylvania State University

HUB-Robeson Center's Alumni Hall

The HUB-Robeson Center's Alumni Hall at Pennsylvania State University filled up with spectators and the five competing teams in the 2009 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the end of February.

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