Rube Goldberg (1883 – 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. Goldberg is best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. Here are a few examples:
Building Rube Goldberg machines has become a popular engineer challenge. The machines demonstrate combinations of the six simple machines:
At Woodlawn School building Rube Goldberg machines is a tradition for each upper class. Check out a few examples:
- turn a light off
- crush a beverage can
- drop a bottle in a recycling bin
- water a plant
- plant seeds in a pot of soil
- pop a balloon
- fill a glass with water
- shut a door
- squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush
- turn off an alarm clock
- aluminum foil
- plastic containers
- water bottles
- toilet paper or paper towel tubes for chutes
- cereal or cake mix boxes to use like dominoes
- beverage cans, soup cans, or batteries to roll
- golf balls
- toy cars
- cups or bowls
- a line dominos that fall down and hit a ping pong ball
- a spiral ramp made of paper plates that provide a ramp for a marble
- a swinging on a string to hit a pin and burst
- a series of tubes for a ball bearing
You’ll see these and many more ideas in the videos above and below. Try to think up new ideas of your own.
Here’s an extra challenge … can you use at least 5 different simple machines in your machine?
What task did you select for your machine?
What materials did you use?
What was the hardest part of you machine to get working? Did you have to test multiple times?
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