Rube Goldberg Machine

Do you like a really good puzzle? If you enjoy problem solving, scientific testing and have a sense of humor, the Rube Goldberg just might be the category for you.

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who was famous for his depiction of extremely complicated inventions designed to complete simple tasks.

A sample description might be a golf ball rolls down a ramp otherwise known as an inclined plane (action), and lands in a paper cup attached to a pulley with a counter weight, that is tripped by the movement of the ball (reaction). The pulley transports the cup with the ball in it to a higher track made of PVC pipe where it is deposited (action) and rolls to another point where another component moves it further (reaction)

The objective of this project is to design and build a Rube Goldberg Machine with at least five (5) distinctive steps for grades four and five (4-5) and twelve to fifteen (12-15) steps for seventh grade.

Rube Goldberg Requirements: (Check off before you turn project in)

Free Standing Rube Goldberg with twelve to fifteen (12- 15) steps for middle school students in seventh grade.

Free Standing Rube Goldberg with 5 steps for elementary school students in fourth and fifth grade (4-5)

Display board which includes:

o Problem Rube Goldberg addresses

o Predicted design idea

o Materials list for project with amounts in metric measurements

o Action/Reaction table labeled for each step (results)

o Conclusions

Rube Goldberg Machine Guidelines: (Check off as you develop your

Rube Goldberg)

Materials used may be recycled materials or bought or a combination of both.

Must have it's own base. The Rube Goldberg must be freestanding and supported by it's own base. You may not come in with all the parts in a bag and set it up in the classroom throughout the room.

Dimensions of project are to be 76cm deep (front to back) by 90cm wide (side to side) by 106cm high (from base to top.)

Electrical energy may not be used (batteries are allowed).

Open flames are not allowed.

The student will demonstrate the machine and will be given three (3) chances to get device to succeed.




Conclusions: An extended paragraph including the following information

What job is the Rube Goldberg performing?

What you did you have to do to get the Rube Goldberg to work?

What did you learn from the project?

What changes did you have to make to get your project to work?

Action/Reaction Table (check off as you complete the table)

It should incorporate three (3) columns labeled: Number of Step, Action, and Reaction

Format should be a spreadsheet or chart.

Each step needs to include an action and a reaction. This means that each step in the Rube Goldberg has 2 parts.

It should have a title.

Feed the Bank Rube Goldberg

Number of Step




Release Chitty Chitty car with mouse driving it

Bumps rubber ball


Ball knocks down the dominoes

Dominoes trigger the first mousetrap


Mousetrap pulls a string

String starts toy record player which plays Hickory Dickory Dock


Record player spins the gears

Gears slowly wind the string pulling up a paperclip


Paper clip detaches from other paperclip

Breaks the circuit of the electromagnet


Electromagnet releases mouse in a car down a ramp

Moving mouse pulls a string


The string pulls a hook (paper clip)

Hook releases a red parachute man who flies down an incline


Man pulls another string from tube that has a pencil at the end

The pulled pencil/string combination lets a heavy ball drop down a tube


The dropping ball pulls an attached string up

Attached string makes another mouse "go up the clock"


As mouse moves upward

2 small ball-bearings are released from under mouse's tail


Ball bearings land on mousetrap

Mousetrap triggers the mechanical bank


Causing a tiny picture of Rube Goldberg who watches closely

A dog puts the coins into the bank

Possible Website Resources:


 (This one will help with the understanding of simple machines)

A nice website for looking at freestanding bases.