Monday, March 5, 2012

Rube Goldberg: Enriching Simple Machines

This was completed some time ago, but thought I would share it anyway. To finish our unit of simple machines, we took a look at Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist who created complex machines to do simple tasks.  Because of the strictness of the use of their images, I will just let you click on this Rube Goldberg link to check it out on your own. Anyway, I introduced him by sharing a little of his biography, then showed several samples on his website. The kids were really into it! But what really sent them over the edge was this old Honda video that shows a Rube Goldberg-type commercial using car parts.

Of course, we couldn't watch it just once! After the third time of viewing it, I then told them they would be designing their own Rube Goldberg creation. Woo-hoo!!

The creation had to have at least 8 steps and they needed to use at least 4 different simple machines (lever, inclined plane, wedge, screw, wheel and axle, or pulley).  They selected from the following list:
  • Put toothpaste on a toothbrush
  • Sharpen a pencil
  • Toast a slice of bread
  • Shut off an alarm clock
  • Raise an American Flag
Or if they thought of one on their own, they could do that too.

The creative juices were flowing! Here are just a few examples:

(Please ignore the dates on these photos. I took the batteries out of my camera and did not reset the date.)

Don't you just love it?


  1. My kids did that too!! They designed and built their own contraptions. We also watched the OK Go music video for "This Too Shall Pass", which is completely a Rube Goldberg contraption. Have you seen that one? (You need to goole it if you haven't!!) They LOVED it! We actually connected it to forces of energy, so the kids had to incorporate at least one force of energy into their contraption. I was very impressed with most of them. Thanks for posting and sharing the photos! :)


    1. I love that! It's like we are kindred spirits. :) Thanks for the OK Go video idea. Love, love, love it!!


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