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Rube Goldberg Machine Projects

As part of our unit on energy in physical science, I had my students build Rube Goldberg machines.  

rube goldberg machine projects

I never did figure out how to take really good pictures of their creations.  🙁  But, I want to post these pictures of what my students did come up with to remind me of how things went for next time I set out to do this project.  

I wish I would have required my students to spend more time in the planning and brainstorming phase before they started actually building their Rube Goldberg machines.  Many groups would build one step of their machine, test it, and then try to figure out what another step should be.  Then, they would stop when they got tired of adding additional steps.  I think they would have better results by starting with a comprehensive plan.  


Thursday 30th of March 2017

From what I've seen, this is pretty typical for teenagers making Rube Goldberg machines. It is difficult to know how each step will work out before trying it. When I've done this, I always set a very specific goal that the students must hit (similar to what Susan commented), but I allow them to do some building before they have to document everything.

As a side note, here are two really awesome Rube Goldberg machines. Not sure how your school board would react to the Jewish one, but it is amazing. The second one is just great. Enjoy!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Thanks for the links. I showed one of those to my class already, but the other one was new to me!

Susan Hewett

Thursday 30th of March 2017

Sarah, Our 8th grade students just completed theirs. THey had to have a minimum of 10 steps, include all the simple machines, and have chemical reaction in tghe process. Our students worked on this for the entire 3rd quarter. Since this was for the science fair, plus a grade in science class, they had to come up with the blueprint first. Ultimately, none of the machines worked 100%. There were some that had about 85% working, but that was it. Since it was science, not math, I don't know the dimensions of the boards they used (they were made of wood). We are thinking of making this a thematic cross curricular theme for next year...and having the process start earlier in the year, with lots of check ins.


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

we did it in 7th grade

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 18th of April 2017

So many great ideas! Thanks for sharing!