In the 2011 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue, 11 teams compete to water a plant in 20 or more steps. Here's the winning entry:
The winning entry was based on a time machine that followed the history of the world from the big bang to the present. It took 212 steps to finally reach a symbol of hope for the future, a mystery box that, when opened by the machine, produced a plant and a watering can.
Captain Zach Umperovitch said the 17 team members spent 2,500 man hours building the machine.
Paul Di Filippo of Weird Universe has another video clip: Link