Rube Goldberg


Created by: mtwilliams

Grade Level: 4-5,6-7,8-9,10-12

Activity Category: Simple & Compound Machines

Resource Category: Hands-On Activities/Labs

Activity Description: After learning about simple and compound machines, have students make a rube-goldberg machine to complete a task.
The assignment could include a set number of simple machines, depending on the grade level of the students.

Time required to do activity:
46-60 minutes

Time required to set up:
31-45 minutes

Time required to clean up:
15-30 minutes

Space needs:
This would depend on the scope of the rube-goldberg- for older students who may have to incorporate 5 or more steps and several simple machines, a 5′ x 5′ area should be adequate.

Cost per class of 25 students:

Items needed and where to get them:
I used spare wood blocks, books. tape string, pulleys- it would depend on the grade level. As you get to the middle school and high school level any specialized equipment ( nails, hammer, toaster etc. students had to bring from home)

Activity Instructions:
Show students a couple videos of Rube Gold0berg machines: Honda cog commercial is a good one:

You must make a rube goldberg machine with _____ simple machines in it, and that has ______ steps. It must complete a simple task ( their choice, or yours) such as popping a balloon, turning a page in a book etc. All materials must be approved by the teacher.

This website has an assignment for students:
You could also look at the official Rube Goldberg website:

You would have to decide how much to require of the students based on their grade-level and/or ability.

Standards Type: National Standards

Standards Explained:
Teachers of science plan an
i n q u i ry-based science prog ra m
for their student s. In doing this,
te a c h e r s
Select science content and adapt and
design curricula to meet the interests,
knowledge, understanding, abilities,
and experiences of students

Teachers of science develop co mmunities of science learners that
re f l e ct the inte l l e ctual rigor of scie ntific inquiry and the at t i t u d e s
and social values co n d u c i ve
to science learn i n g. In doing this,
te a c h e r s. The sch ool sci en ce pro gram must
extend beyond the wa lls of the sch ool to
i n clude the re sou rces of the co m mu n i ty.
Display and demand respect for the
diverse ideas, skills, and experiences
of all students.
Enable students to have a significant
voice in decisions about the content
and context of their work and require
students to take responsibility for
the learning of all members of the
Nu rt u re co l l a bo ration among student s.
Structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on
a shared understanding of rules of
scientific discourse.
Model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry

Teachers of science guide and
f a c i l i t ate learn i n g. In doing this,
te a c h e r s
Focus and support inquiries while
interacting with students.
Orchestrate discourse among students
about scientific ideas.
Challenge students to accept and
share responsibility for their own
Recognize and respond to student
diversity and encourage all students
to participate fully in science learning.
Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity,
openness to new ideas and data,and
skepticism that characterize science.
Teachers of science design and
manage learning env i ro n m e nt s
t h at provide students with the
t i m e, s p a ce, and re s o u rces needed for learning science. In doing
t h i s, te a c h e r s
Structure the time available so that
students are able to engage in
extended investigations
Create a setting for student work that
is flexible and supportive of science
Ensure a safe working environment.
Make the available science tools,
materials,media,and technological
resources accessible to students.
Identify and use resources outside
the school.
Engage students in designing the
learning environment.
As a result of their activities in
grades 5-8 , all students should
develop an understanding of
Motions and forces
Transfer of energy

As a result of activities in gra d e s
5 – 8 , all students should deve l o p
n Abilities of technological design
n Understandings about science
and technology

As a result of activities in gra d e s
5 – 8 , all students should deve l o p
understanding of
Science as a human endeavor
Nature of science

Class Management and Safety Issues:
You would want to make sure you approved all materials and designs prior to starting to ensure safety. You would also want to consider if the students have marbles or objects that will be flung. These things can be monitored with having the students draw out their design first. Require safety equipment ( glasses, aprons etc.) dependent on the designs.

Edheads recommends these products from Amazon:
Explore Simple Machines
Explore Simple Machines!: 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments (Explore Your World series)

Tags: simple machines, compound machines, Rube-Goldgerg, physical science


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Clearly written and easily understood
Meets standards listed
Takes the time estimated
Cost the amount estimated
Rating: 3.0/5 (3 votes cast)