How to Make Your Own Rube-Goldberg Machine!

A Rube-Goldberg Machine, named after the famous cartoonist, is a device that performs a simple task using a chain reaction. Often seen in movies, commercials, and TV shows, these devices are fun to create and watch! Today you will be learning how to construct your own Rube-Goldberg Machine and their importance!

Here are some other inspirational videos to get you started. Have fun!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Decide what challenge you are going to tackle.

Examples include:

  • Opening a door
  • Turning off an alarm
  • Popping a balloon
  • Shutting a door
  • Turning a page in a book
  • Ringing a bell
  • Turning on a light
  1. Gather your materials.

Obtain items that can move, roll, topple, and/or serve as ramps. We recommended using some of the following items:

  • Toy blocks
  • Plastic cups
  • Marbles or small balls
  • Books
  • Empty cereal boxes
  • Empty bottles
  • String
  • Tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cans 
  • Bowls
  • Rulers
  • Sticks
  • Balloons
  • Chopsticks
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Toy cars
  • Magnets
  1. Design and build your Rube-Goldberg Machine! Use your materials in such a way that will cause a chain reaction resulting in a solution to your challenge. Remember not to be afraid of failure! If it doesn’t work the first time, reevaluate. What can you do to fix it?

A DEEPER LOOK AT RUBE-GOLDBERG MACHINES

When constructing a Rube-Goldberg Machine, you must use your creativity and understanding of physics to solve a simple problem. When you experiment with different arrangements for your device, you are taking into consideration principles that are very important in engineering. For example: you may be manipulating your materials to convert energy, using force to start off your chain reaction, or watching Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction). This activity also allows you to understand mechanisms that exist in machines like cars or elevators that we use on a daily basis. When you are constructing your own unique Rube-Goldberg Machine, take a minute to consider how momentum, friction, and gravity may be impacting your experiment. You may even want to visit our previous articles and see what connections you can make with our past lessons!

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