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  • Design and Build a Rube Goldberg

Hands-on Activity Design and Build a Rube Goldberg

Grade Level: 8 (7-9)

Note: 25 minutes one day, 50 the next day

Expendable Cost/Group: US $1.00

Group Size: 3

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Physical Science, Science and Technology

NGSS Performance Expectations:

NGSS Three Dimensional Triangle

Curriculum in this Unit Units serve as guides to a particular content or subject area. Nested under units are lessons (in purple) and hands-on activities (in blue). Note that not all lessons and activities will exist under a unit, and instead may exist as "standalone" curriculum.

  • A Simple Solution for the Circus
  • Tools and Equipment, Part I
  • Machines and Tools, Part II
  • The Magician's Catapult

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Engineering connection, learning objectives, materials list, worksheets and attachments, more curriculum like this, pre-req knowledge, introduction/motivation, vocabulary/definitions, troubleshooting tips, activity extensions, activity scaling, user comments & tips.

Engineering… designed to work wonders

Designing and building is essential to engineering. Engineers follow the steps of the design process to help them create the best possible solutions to real-world problems. These challenges may be simple or complex and the wide variety of solutions can also cover a range of effort for the user. In general, complex designs require more effort to develop than simple ones. Rube Goldberg designs are meant to show the unnecessary complexities in machines, which sometimes result from modern technology.

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • List the general steps of the engineering design process .
  • Think critically about the importance of the machines they encounter in life.
  • Use their knowledge of simple and compound machines to design and build a small Rube Goldberg machine.

Educational Standards Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards. All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) , a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org). In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g. , by state; within source by type; e.g. , science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc .

Ngss: next generation science standards - science, common core state standards - math.

View aligned curriculum

Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!

International Technology and Engineering Educators Association - Technology

State standards, colorado - math, colorado - science.

During the first part of the activity, which is the design of the machines, tell the students that the following materials will be available for them. Anything else they think of requires teacher approval, for example, dominoes, an egg, a wooden dowel, wheels, etc.

  • construction paper
  • small paper cups (such as Dixie cups)
  • paper towel tubes
  • jumbo paper clips
  • rubber bands

In order to understand compound machines, it is helpful if students are familiar with the six individual simple machines and their abilities to make work easier, as discussed in lessons 1-3 of this unit. Compound machines are described in Lesson 4 . This activity works is intended as a finale to the simple machines unit.

We have been learning about simple and compound machines, calculating mechanical advantage and thinking about machines as a part of society. What is a simple machine? A simple machine makes work easier for people. We also know that engineers build complex machines upon a foundation of knowledge of simple machines. Now we will look at how all of these things that we have been studying come together, as we take on the role of the engineers who design machines. We are not going to design just any machine though; we are going to invent Rube Goldberg machines. Recall that a Rube Goldberg is a contraption that accomplishes a simple task in a fantastically complicated way.

Several steps compose the process of inventing, regardless of the type of machine you want to create. Who knows the first step in the engineering design process ? The first step in designing a good solution is to define the need and the audience. You will need to work with your team to decide what you will be designing. What is the problem you are trying to solve, and who are you designing it for?

Next, an engineer thinks about information that might help to solve the problem. Needed information might include the constraints or limitations on the problem, such as materials or time or safety. For this project, we have some materials already available and we want to use at least three simple machines. We definitely have limited time to our class period, and we want to make sure our contraption is safe.

After all of these things have been decided, engineers brainstorm design ideas. With your team, you will come up with many different simple machine ideas that could be used to accomplish your final task. Then your engineering team will choose which ones to use and create a plan or drawing of the design.

Why is it important to design your machine first, either as a drawing or a clear idea in your mind? (Answer: To just start building could lead you to a machine you don't like or doesn't work, and we don't want to waste materials and time.)

Make sure your machine has many different steps and motions in order to complete the end function and look like a Rube Goldberg. Professional engineers draw their inventions before the thing is built, so we will do that, too. Remember to include a materials list.

Once you have a drawing and materials list, and the design has been approved by the teacher, begin building. Remember that good engineers try not to use more material than necessary and are interested in an attractive product that works as designed. After everyone is finished, we will rotate through and see all the machines in action.

Before the Activity

  • For Part 1, gather paper and pencils for students to draw their designs and list any additional materials.
  • Gather all materials, including any additional materials requested by groups.

With the Students

Part 1: Design the Rube Goldberg Machine (25 minutes)

  • In groups of three, have student engineering teams decide on simple tasks to create machines for, intended audiences, and any information they know that will help them solve the problem.
  • With every group member contributing ideas, have students brainstorm ideas about how they will accomplish the simple task (such as getting a marble in a cup one meter away) in an overly complex way. Remind them that they must use at least three simple machines in their final designs.
  • Next, have each team collectively produce machine drawings that include dimensions.
  • Have teams include materials lists, including any special-request materials.
  • Teams show their designs and materials lists to the teacher for approval.
  • Have students make design alterations if not immediately approved. After approval, make the design more specific or the drawing more detailed as other groups finish up their designs.

Part 2: Build the Rube Goldberg (50-60 minutes)

  • Have students spend a few minutes reviewing their drawings from Part 1 before starting to build.
  • Have student teams gather their materials and begin to build their designs.
  • Emphasize that each group member participates.
  • Direct the students to follow the planned design as closely as possible.
  • Once teams, have completed their designs, have them test their machines. Evaluate competing design solutions to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • Allow student teams to return to their seats and make adjustments, as necessary. Re-test any re-designs.
  • Have each engineering team display its Rube Goldberg contraptions to the class during the last 10 minutes of the period.

design: To form a plan.

Rube Goldberg: Cartoonist and engineer who poked fun at overly complicated machines; a machine that operates in a complicated way in which the procedure could have been much simpler.

specification: An exact and detailed statement of something to be built.

Pre-Activity Assessment

Discussion Questions : Solicit, integrate and summarize student responses.

  • What is a Rube Goldberg? (Answer: A machine that does a simple task in a complicated way.)
  • Do such machines exist in the world? (Answer: Sure, otherwise Rube Goldberg would not have made it to the dictionary. They are any wacky looking device that seems too complex for its own good; moreover, it probably does a task you don't really need done in the first place.)

Activity Embedded Assessment

Activity Discussion : Review and discuss the activity with the entire class. Use the answers to gauge students' mastery of what it means to design and build. Be sure to cover both the process and the purpose of its design.

  • How does Rube Goldberg fit in to all of this? (Answer: His cartoons help us think about the meaning of machines in our society.)

Engineering Design Process : Have students acknowledge each step of the engineering design process as they are completing them. Write the steps on the board for student reference. The steps include: Define the problem, gather information, brainstorm ideas, select the most promising idea, explain your design, build and test your design, and redesign for improvement based on what you have learned from testing.

Post-Activity Assessment

Rube Goldberg Worksheet : Use this worksheet to assign students to take a closer look at a Rube Goldberg cartoon and, drawing upon previously learned concepts, develop arguments that say the machine could in fact work.

Remind students that the Rube Goldberg cartoon machines would probably never work in the real world, so they should not design something that closely resembles his cartoon, because they probably would not be able to build it.

Have students explain how they would find the mechanical advantage of their Rube Goldberg machines.

  • For lower grades, designate a specific function for the machine. Students' machines should include at least three steps to completing the task.

rube goldberg machine project pdf

Through the cartoons of Rube Goldberg, students are engaged in critical thinking about the way his inventions make simple tasks even harder to complete. As the final lesson in the simple machines unit, the study of Rube Goldberg machines can help students evaluate the importance and usefulness of th...

preview of 'Rube Goldberg and the Meaning of Machines' Lesson

Students expand upon their understanding of simple machines with an introduction to compound machines. This lesson encourages students to critically think about machine inventions and their role in our lives.

preview of 'Not So Simple' Lesson

Students apply the mechanical advantages and problem-solving capabilities of six types of simple machines (wedge, wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, screw, pulley) as they discuss modern structures in the spirit of the engineers and builders of the great pyramids.

preview of 'Simple Machines and Modern Day Engineering Analogies' Lesson

Students research and learn about simple machines and other mechanisms through learning about a Rube Goldberg machine. Student teams design and build their own Rube Goldberg devices that incorporate at least six simple machines. This project is open-ended with much potential for creativity and fun.

preview of 'Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Challenge' Maker Challenge

Contributors

Supporting program, acknowledgements.

This digital library content was developed by the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: April 1, 2021

rube goldberg machine project pdf

11 Step Rube Goldberg Machine

license

Introduction: 11 Step Rube Goldberg Machine

11 Step Rube Goldberg Machine

This project is an 11 Step Rube Goldberg Machine, which is designed to form a simple task in a complicated way. The task of this project is to catch a bar of soap.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Gather Supplies

For the machine you will need:

- 2 marbles

- ping pong size ball

- paper towel tube

- 2 toilet paper tubes

- a bar of soap

- light cylinder

- masking tape

- 4 scrabble word holders

- small jewelry box

- large game box

- large stool

- small bouncy ball

Step 2: Base

Base

Using a large stool, tape one end of the paper towel tube to the top of the stool and the other on top of the chair which should be tucked into the table. The base should be the large game box with the jewelry box taped on top, and placed on the edge of the table.

Step 3: Toilet Paper Tubes

Toilet Paper Tubes

Using masking tape, tape one end of one toilet paper tube to the edge of the jewelry box(in the same line as the paper towel tube) with masking tape, and tape the other edge to the large game box. Take the second toilet paper tube and tape one end to the edge of the game box and the other end onto the table.

Step 4: Tracks

Tracks

Using 2 scrabble word holders tape a "track" on each end of both of the toilet paper tubes. Make sure that the word holders are parellel to each other and align the tube on both sides. Using 2 q-tips, make a track between the paper towel tube and the first toilet paper tube, taping them down so that the edge of each side of the tube line up together with the q-tips. The track is to ensure that the marbles/balls go in a straight line.

Step 5: Marbles and Dominoes

Marbles and Dominoes

At the top of each toilet paper tube, place a small marble right before the edge of the tube. After the marbles are placed, put a domino before both of the marbles so that the domino is able to hit the marble into the tube once the machine is finished.

Step 6: Domino Track

Domino Track

At the bottom of the second toilet paper tube, place a small ping pong size ball in the middle of the track so that the marble will hit the tube. Followed by the small ball, place about 8 dominoes that end up curving towards the other edge of the table(90 degrees from original start position) so that they can hit each other. Be sure to leave some space at the edge of the table.

Step 7: Cylinder and Soap

Cylinder and Soap

Finally, place a light cylinder after the domino track so that the domino can hit the cylinder. The cylinder must be light enough for the domino to hit, so you may have to test a couple of different objects/cylinders. I used an empty face spray. Following the light cylinder, place the cup with the bar of soap in it, on the edge of the table so that the cup is half way off of the table.

Step 8: Running the Machine

Running the Machine

Once the machine is all set up, for it to work, you should place the small bouncy ball into the paper towel tube which is on top of the stool. The 11 steps of the machine include:

1) ball going through paper towel tube

2) ball hitting domino 1

3) ball hitting marble 1

4) marble going through toilet paper tube 1

5) marble hitting domino 2

6) domino 2 hitting marble 2

7) marble 2 going through toilet paper tube 2

8) marble 2 hitting ping pong ball

9) ping pong ball hitting domino track

10) domino track hitting light cylinder

11) light cylinder hitting cup with bar of soap(that falls and someone catches)

Attachments

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Rube Goldberg Machine Project! An engaging Project Based Learning lesson plan for grades 6-8.

Rube Goldberg Machine Project: Free PBL Lesson Plan

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Exploring Simple Machines and Creativity through Rube Goldberg Machine, a free Project Based Learning lesson plan for grades 6-8.

In this project-based learning lesson plan, students will embark on a journey to explore the principles of simple machines, physics, and creativity by designing and building their own Rube Goldberg machines. These whimsical contraptions are elaborate chain-reaction devices that perform a simple task in the most complicated way possible. This project will challenge students to apply their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to create innovative and fun machines.

Rube Goldberg Machine Project! An engaging Project Based Learning lesson plan for grades 6-8.

Grade Level: Middle School (6th-8th grade)

Subject Areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Art

Duration: 4-6 weeks (may vary based on class schedule)

Rube Goldberg Machine Project Objectives:

  • Understand the principles of simple machines and how they relate to real-world applications.
  • Develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills through designing and building a Rube Goldberg machine.
  • Foster creativity and teamwork in the context of a collaborative project.
  • Apply mathematical concepts, measurement, and data analysis to the project.
  • Communicate the design process and results effectively.

Rube Goldberg Machine Project Materials:

  • Classroom supplies (paper, cardboard, tape, glue, string, scissors, etc.)
  • Assorted objects for constructing the machine (dominoes, marbles, toy cars, ramps, pulleys, etc.)
  • Simple machine models (levers, pulleys, inclined planes, etc.)
  • Measuring tools (rulers, measuring tape, protractors)
  • Computers for research and documentation
  • Digital cameras or smartphones for documenting the process

Week 1: Introduction to Rube Goldberg Machines and Simple Machines

Day 1: Introduction to Rube Goldberg machines, watch examples.

Days 2-3: Explore the concept of simple machines. Hands-on activities with levers, pulleys, inclined planes, etc.

Days 4-5: Research and gather materials for the project. Discuss safety guidelines.

Week 2: Planning and Design

Day 1: Brainstorm in groups. Define the task your machine will perform.

Days 2-3: Create a detailed plan for your machine, including sketches and a list of materials needed.

Day 4: Present your plan to the class for feedback.

Day 5: Finalize your design and gather materials.

Week 3-4: Building the Rube Goldberg Machines

Days 1-10: Assemble the Rube Goldberg machines based on your designs.

Throughout this period: Troubleshoot and make adjustments as needed.

Week 5: Testing and Refining

Day 1: Test the machines and identify any issues or improvements.

Days 2-5: Make necessary adjustments and continue testing.

Week 6: Presentation and Reflection

Day 1: Present your completed Rube Goldberg machines to the class.

Days 2-3: Reflect on the project and discuss the following questions:

What challenges did you face during the project?

How did you apply principles of simple machines?

What was the most creative part of your machine?

How did teamwork play a role in your project?

Days 4-5: Compile a project report or presentation showcasing the design process, challenges, solutions, and final results.

Rube Goldberg Machine Project Assessment:

  • Class participation and collaboration during planning and building.
  • The functionality and creativity of the Rube Goldberg machine.
  • Project report or presentation detailing the design process and reflections.
  • Ability to apply simple machine principles and concepts.
  • Teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Extensions:

Invite parents, other classes, or the school community to see the machines in action.

Hold a Rube Goldberg competition with prizes for the most creative, complex, and functional machines.

Discuss the history of Rube Goldberg and his contributions to engineering and humor.

By the end of this project, students will not only have a deeper understanding of simple machines and physics but will also have developed problem-solving skills and a greater appreciation for creativity in engineering and design.

Bonus: Project Based Learning Lesson Plans Template

Whether you’re designing a project based lesson plan for your class, co-op, or homeschool family, make it easy with a simple and effective Project Based Learning lesson plans template . This template includes a two-page overview of your project, five days of planning, and a ten point rubric all in a simple-to-edit Google Doc.

PBL Lesson Plan Template

Related: PBL Lesson Plan Template: The Power of Project Based Learning Project Based Learning Activities: 50 Engaging Ideas! Recycling Project: A PBL Lesson Plan for Grades 5-8

rube goldberg machine project pdf

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Science in School

Science in School

Conservation and transfer of energy: project-based learning with rube goldberg machines teach article.

Author(s): Sarah Ferguson, Francis Estacion, Nicole Del Russo, Becki Grimes

Silly or serious? Rube Goldberg machines are not only a lot of fun but can help students to understand the principles of conservation and transfer of energy.

What are Rube-Goldberg machines?

Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg (1883–1970) was an American cartoonist and inventor best known for illustrations of his contraptions, named Rube Goldberg machines, which solve simple tasks in the most complicated and funny ways possible. These contraptions live on in the form of pop culture and competitions. [ 1 ] Below is a comic demonstrating one of Rube Goldberg’s machines.

A comic of a self-operating napkin created by Rube Goldberg Artwork Copyright © and TM or ® marks as All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission. rubegoldberg.com

Project-based learning (PBL) builds on the notion that students will be more engaged in learning through a curriculum built on exploring real-world problems or designed challenges. [ 2 ]

Combining the idea of Rube Goldberg machines and PBL creates an engaging learning sequence designed to help students understand the conservation and transfer of energy. This activity is designed for physics students aged 15 to 18 and can be appropriately scaled up or down, depending on students’ learning needs and classroom dynamics. It provides an exploration of the conservation of mechanical energy. The main objective is to design and build a Rube Goldberg machine, while exploring the conservation and transfer of energy.

Through this project, students are expected to address the following performance objectives: [ 3 ]

  • Demonstrate how energy in a closed system is conserved if no work is done on, by, or within the system.
  • Use everyday life to illustrate that energy can be transformed from one form to another.
  • Investigate conservation of energy in a mechanical system to verify whether any energy is lost outside the system.

The project concept map outlines the connectedness of all major and minor ideas that need to be explored. 

The major terms that the map is built upon, mechanical energy and law of conservation, serve as the focal points of the concept map. These two major topics are connected via energy, more specifically, kinetic and potential energy, but the mechanical energy idea also includes work and force. 

Implementation

The project is delivered in three class periods, spanning seven days to include a weekend, giving students a good amount of time to be creative with their Rube Goldberg machine designs and creations. These lessons are designed for a virtual experience, but they can also work well in an in-person classroom environment.

Lesson 1: Introductions and sketches

  • Engagement video [ 4 ]
  • Assignment worksheets
  • Scratch paper
  • Project website (optional – virtual learning)
  • To begin the first day, the teacher should ask the class to list some chores that they must complete at home.
  • The teacher can then ask students whether those listed chores could be accomplished by a machine. The students will excitedly discuss the chores that they dislike having to do and brainstorm if they think the task can be accomplished by a machine. 
  • Once the students are fully engaged with the discussion, they should watch the engagement video , which is a highly entertaining music video containing a complicated Rube Goldberg machine. [ 4 ]
  • After the video, the teacher should ask the driving question: What kind of machine could you build that would complete a chore or task for you? To engage the students into figuring out how to answer this question, the teacher can probe with further questions, such as “ what is a Rube Goldberg machine” and “how does the machine continue after only one action?”
  • After a brief discussion, the teacher introduces the full project via a PowerPoint presentation. 
  • Students are assigned a Project Worksheet to supplement their projects, which is due on the third and final day of the unit. The worksheet requires sketches as well as input–output energy equations, which students will work through to calculate potential, kinetic, and possibly rotational energy.
  • After hearing about their assignment, students can begin to explore energy transfers and Rube Goldberg machines by participating in an online game . This game is broken into levels, each with their own challenges for students to work through. While exploring Rube Goldberg machines through the game, students are also instructed to pay attention to energy transfers and the initiating tasks that begin each machine. Students are encouraged to notate ideas from the game that they would like to incorporate into their own Rube Goldberg machine creations. The students are given ten minutes of class time to work through as many levels as possible for a little competition.
  • After completing the game activity, the remaining lesson time is allotted for students to begin sketching their machines. 
  • Based on the sketches, the students should have created a list of materials needed to build their machines. 
  • Online teaching: there are many activities and learning sequences within this small unit of instruction, so a project website was created to house all supplemental materials and to provide easy access to directions, timelines, requirements, and project details for students. If using this, students can be shown the site at end of the lesson (where and how to upload their assignments) and be given their first exit ticket. The exit ticket requires the students to list two examples for each of the six different types of simple machines.

Lesson 2: Construction

  • Engagement video [ 5 ]
  • Video assessment worksheets
  • Optional: exit tickets (available on the project website )

Below is a list of suggested materials to have in the classroom for students to use, but students are encouraged to bring materials from home.

  • Paper clips
  • Aluminium foil
  • Ice lolly sticks
  • The teacher introduces another engagement video to get students thinking about physics and their projects, [ 5 ] and the students are given the video assessment worksheet to supplement the video assigned. Afterwards, the worksheet problems are worked through as a class.
  • The students are given the remaining class time to work on assembling their machines. In a virtual teaching environment, some students will build small machines near their computers and others will build larger machines elsewhere and check back in with the teacher periodically. The teacher assists students with building ideas or questions as needed.   
  • At the end of the class, students are instructed to create a video recording of their machines before the next class. 
  • The students are assigned their second exit ticket, which requires them to list three things they learned about simple machines, as well as two questions they still have about energy transfers. The teacher collects these questions, answers them, and distributes the questions and answers back to the students via email, prior to the next class. The questions posed by students are also listed, with answers, on the project website.

Lesson 3: Presentations

  • PowerPoint slideshow of all Rube Goldberg machines
  • Peer-review worksheet and rubric
  • Voting ballots (strips of scratch paper)

The final component of a PBL lesson is presentation. In a virtual setting, it is best to have students create videos showcasing their Rube Goldberg machines, and class time on the third day will be dedicated to video sharing and peer review. The students will arrive at class excited to present their Rube Goldberg machines.

  • The teacher explains how the presentations will be conducted and how the peer-review process functions.
  • Students are given a peer-review worksheet to complete during the presentations. About half the class time is designated for the presentation showcase, so there is time for replaying video recordings multiple times as well as in slow motion. 
  • After all student videos are presented and peer-review comments are submitted, the teacher will show the students a national Rube Goldberg competition and discuss their smaller machines in comparison to the elaborate machines showcased in the national competition.

This project can be modified in many ways. If situations permit, this can be a good project for groupwork or for a competition. Also, the number of energy transfers can be scaled up or down, depending on the students’ abilities. Additionally, if the project is conducted in person, then the driving question can be changed to be more applicable to tasks that can be completed in the classroom. Along with being in person, the presentations can either be live or completed through video recordings. An option could be for students to record their machines in the classroom, so they are able to record multiple takes if their machines malfunction.

Student learning and understanding regarding energy transformations increases after having the opportunity to create their own energy transformations in a fun and educational way. 

[1] An introduction to Rube Goldberg: https://www.rubegoldberg.com/rube-the-artist/

[2] Larmer J, Ross D, Mergendoller JR (2017) PBL Starter Kit . Buck Institute for Education, Novato CA. ISBN: 0974034320

[3] Board of Education (2018) Science standards of learning for Virginia public schools: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/science/2018/standards/stds_physics.pdf

[4] Demonstration of a Rube Goldberg machine from OK Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

[5] A video from 3M demonstrating a Rube Goldberg machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEzcO3nfjZk

  • Find all the resources for this activity on the Rube Goldberg PBI site .
  • Sign up for one of the fantastic Rube-Goldberg contests offered by rubegoldberg.com : The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, The Rube Goldberg Crazy Contraption Cartoon Contest, or The Rube Goldberg/Minecraft Competition. These activities are free and open to all ages.
  • Play a game on dynamic systems .
  • Check out Joseph’s machines on YouTube for wonderful examples, such as passing the salt while maintaining social distancing.
  • ESA (2021) Landing on the Moon – planning and designing a lunar lander . Science in School 51 .
  • Florean C (2018) Adventures in creative recycling . Science in School 45 : 27-30.
  • Toro S (2021) Biomimicry: linking form and function to evolutionary and ecological principles . Science in School 53 .

Dr Sarah Ferguson is a master teacher with the Old Dominion University’s MonarchTeach program. Experienced with problem-based instruction, she enjoys working with pre-service teachers to expand their understanding of problem-based instruction techniques.

Francis Estacion is a physics teacher with King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, Virginia.  He enjoys bringing hands-on experiences into his physics classroom and encouraging his students to explore their curiosity.

Nicole Del Russo and Becki Grimes are pre-service teachers majoring in physics. They enjoy working with students in hands-on lessons that encourage curiosity while making physics relatable and understandable.

If you are looking for a novel and exciting way to teach classic physics concepts to older students, this article may be what you are looking for!

Energy transfers are investigated through a project-based learning activity intertwining science and popular culture to create a Rube Golberg contraption. This activity can be used as part of a seven day guided physics project or even be adapted into a fun, cross-curricular competition using skills from other subjects such as design and technology. Designed to be delivered online as well as in person, this activity offers a creative and easily adaptable physics option for today’s changing classroom.

Koulla Andronicou, Head of Science, Med High Private English School, Cypress

Supporting materials

Assignment worksheet

Peer-review worksheet

Student project worksheet

Video assessment worksheet

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF CREATE YOUR OWN RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE (ALL AGES)

    o Explain that machines serve us by making it easier for us to do something. Not all objects are machines. E.g. books, clothes, boxes, cups are not machines. But scissors, wheels, knives etc. are machines Watch some videos of Rube Goldberg machines online to get your learner excited about building their own. If you do not have access to the ...

  2. Design and Build a Rube Goldberg

    Simple Machines and the Rube Goldberg Challenge. Students research and learn about simple machines and other mechanisms through learning about a Rube Goldberg machine. Student teams design and build their own Rube Goldberg devices that incorporate at least six simple machines. This project is open-ended with much potential for creativity and fun.

  3. PDF Rube Goldberg Machines

    Rube Goldberg Machines . Submitted by: Edward Gunkle, 8th Grade Science . Miff-West High School, Middleburg, PA . Target Grade ... Students will need copies of the Rube Goldberg Project-Part 1. Day 1's lesson follows the provided PowerPoint as the students follow along with the worksheet.

  4. Group Rube Goldberg Machine Project

    Step 7: Run Your Final Machine. For this final step, I set a whole class period aside to celebrate the end of the project. (Often students will bring in money to order pizzas or treats to celebrate as a class.) While they may feel confident about their own machine or even the connection between their machine and the ones on either side of them ...

  5. PDF Activity: Design Your Own Rube Goldberg Machine

    GRADE LEVELS: 6-8. SUMMARY: Rube Goldberg is famous for his very complex machines that accomplish everyday tasks. Students will design and build a Rube Goldberg machine which will accomplish a simple task in no less than ten steps. LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY [1 = Least Difficult: 5 = Most Difficult] 4-difficult.

  6. PDF Build Your Machine Rube Goldberg

    Build Your Machine Rube Goldberg. 6th - 8th Grade Students will build a machine that is designed to perform a simple task in an intentionally complicated way. A Rube Goldberg machine is one that is designed to complete a simple task in a complex way. There are no set instructions on how to build one because that part is up to YOU!

  7. PDF Rube Goldberg Machines!

    Build and explain how the Simple Machines function Construct a Rube Goldberg Machine utilizing the Three Laws of Motion and Simple Machines DO: Materials: Plastic cup half full of water Coins (3 quarters, 1 dime, 1 nickel, and 1 cent) Corrugated cardboard Rube Goldberg Machines! Wacky Fun! Dr. Barbara J. Shaw

  8. PDF Educator Resource

    The learner will be creating their own Rube Goldberg machine at home! The machine must meet the following criteria: It must include at least 3 types of simple machines: levers or pulleys, wheels, inclined planes. It must have at least 10 parts. It must solve a problem at the end - like ring a bell, push a button etc.

  9. PDF Project: Rube Goldberg Machines

    a. The objective of the machine (e.g. Our Rube Goldberg Machine is designed to close a window) b. The Physics topics included in the machine, how many steps are in your machine, and how long the machine runs for from start to finish. c. How you designed your machine. d. The materials you used in your machine. e. Details regarding each step (e.g.

  10. PDF Worksheet No.1

    Worksheet No.1 - Build a "Rube Goldberg Machine"! A Ru b e G o l d b e rg d e vi ce i s a ma ch i n e t h a t co mp l e t e s a si mp l e t a sk i n a n e xt ra o rd i n a ri l y co mp l i ca t e d wa y.

  11. 11 Step Rube Goldberg Machine : 8 Steps

    Once the machine is all set up, for it to work, you should place the small bouncy ball into the paper towel tube which is on top of the stool. The 11 steps of the machine include: 1) ball going through paper towel tube. 2) ball hitting domino 1. 3) ball hitting marble 1. 4) marble going through toilet paper tube 1. 5) marble hitting domino 2.

  12. PDF Rube Goldberg Project

    Draw your Rube Goldberg design. It must be neat and colored. You must number your steps on your drawing on your poster. On a separate sheet of paper you must number and write out each step. You must have 10 or more steps. Write a paragraph of 10 or more sentences to explain the history of Rube Goldberg Machines.

  13. PDF Rube Goldberg Project

    project during class and required no reminders to stay on task. Number of steps in Rube Goldburg before achieving the goal. 0 steps 1-2 steps 3-4 Steps 5-6 Steps 7 or more steps Number of simple machines used. Only 1 simple machine type used. 2 different simple machine types are used. 3-4 different simple machine types are used. 5-6 different

  14. Rube Goldberg Machine Project: Free PBL Lesson Plan

    In this project-based learning lesson plan, students will embark on a journey to explore the principles of simple machines, physics, and creativity by designing and building their own Rube Goldberg machines. These whimsical contraptions are elaborate chain-reaction devices that perform a simple task in the most complicated way possible.

  15. PDF LESSON 3: Designing a Rube Goldberg Machine

    Specifications for Rube Goldberg Machine projects are as follows: *Teachers may choose to alter the requirements, but the following standards are required for competition in the Northern New England Invention Convention and National Rube Goldberg Contest Apprentice Level: Grades K - 5 Division I: Grades 6 - 8 Division II: Grades 9 -12

  16. PDF The Rube Goldberg Project

    a. An introduction and project history b. A complete, well-drawn schematic diagram c. A step-by-step explanation of the action d. An explanation of the physics of the simple machines employed 5. Presentation of the contraption to the class and instructor for evaluation 6. Presentation of the contraption to the public on Rube Goldberg Night

  17. Rube Resources

    Rube Goldberg Machine iBlock Project. Want a more robust, standards-aligned Rube Goldberg activity for your classroom? Download a sample of Teq's iBlock (instructional Block) for a sneak preview of this ultimate Rube Goldberg teaching tool. It's a 10-part sequence of student-led, teacher-guided lessons and activities that takes you through the process of building a Rube Goldberg Machine ...

  18. Conservation and transfer of energy: project-based learning with Rube

    The project is delivered in three class periods, spanning seven days to include a weekend, giving students a good amount of time to be creative with their Rube Goldberg machine designs and creations. These lessons are designed for a virtual experience, but they can also work well in an in-person classroom environment.

  19. Study Kinetic Energy with a Rube Goldberg Machine

    This is an engineering design project, so there is not a specific list of required materials. ... they will use it to design a Rube Goldberg machine. Rube Goldberg machines are named after the American cartoonist, author, engineer, and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883-1979). ... (pdf) Make Career Connections. Discussing or reading about these ...

  20. Rube Goldberg Machine Project ES 62

    EXPERIMENT Guidelines - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. The document provides instructions for an engineering project where student groups must create a Rube Goldberg machine with at least 6 components that runs for over 2 minutes. Each component must be unique and one must display the group name. The machine must have an objective that is achieved ...

  21. Project Rube Goldberg Machine

    Project Rube Goldberg Machine | PDF. Scribd is the world's largest social reading and publishing site.

  22. (PDF) Rube Goldberg Project 2011 Written Report

    The 16-step Rube Goldberg machine project involves a series of domino-like events culminating in the raising of a Malaysian flag. The first step uses the projectile motion of a marble down an incline and through a bottle. Subsequent steps employ mousetraps, pulleys, collisions, see-saws, tubes, and inclines to transfer energy and motion through the system. Physics concepts like energy ...

  23. Rube Goldberg Project

    rube goldberg project - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free.