Rube Goldberg MachineWeb Quest for Physics
external image rube-goldberg.jpg


Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for creating diagrams that showed an extremely complicated, complex way to accomplish simple, ordinary tasks. You, too, will follow in the creative footsteps of Mr. Goldberg on the path to simple machine invention.

You will design and build a working Rube Goldberg machine, a very complicated machine to perform a simple everyday task. You will keep a journal of your progress and write a paper about your project.

  1. Brainstorm (write down) a list of sources where you might find information on Rube Goldberg, simple machines and energy transfer.
  2. Review sample Rube Goldberg cartoons at the Official Rube Goldberg site and the Rube Goldberg Gallery
  3. Review the proponents of simple machines at these sites:

5. Review these sites for information on transfer of energy:

6. Try these suggested sites for other ideas for your project:

7. Also look in the reference section of the library in encyclopedias for information on different types of propellers and Newton’s Laws or
the online encyclopedias at the West Central High School Library web site.

8. Keep a journal as you progress through this project. This should include at least 5 entries--2 of which should be from the in-class work dates. There is a journal entry for this on Blackboard Learn; along with the rubric that will be used to grade these journal entries.

9. Draw a labeled diagram of your machine with detailed instructions of your steps.

10. After assembling the materials, now build your Rube Goldberg machine including the following guidelines:
  • machine must perform some task, any task within reason (consult teacher for final approval)
  • can have 2 people in a group working on 1 machine (groups will be assigned)
  • must have at least 5 steps. 10 or more will earn bonus points.
  • must include at least 3 simple machines. If you use all 6, five bonus points are earned.
  • must use 3 energy transfers
  • must be free standing and able to get through the door
  • must be able to complete the task more than once
  • cannot touch machine after it starts
  • no electrical devices allowed

11. You will demonstrate your machine in a class exhibition (March 29/30).

12. You will also turn in a paper (12-point Times New Roman font, double spaced, 3-5 page) which includes the following:
  • list of simple machines and how they work
  • energy transfer and how it is used in your project
  • labeled diagram of your machine with detailed instructions of your steps
  • Run your paper through and take a screen shot of your results page to upload to blackboard learn
  • DUE MARCH 27/28!!!

13. Include in your journal a separate entry that includes a final analysis/self evaluation on how well you think you did on this project. Include:
  • What did I do right?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What would I change if I could?
  • How could I make the project better?

You will receive 1 project grade for this project in the following breakdown of 100 points:
--Paper (35)—included all information requested, including a bibliography in MLA format. (use
--Working machine (20)—followed guidelines
--Finished product (35)—has at least 5 steps
--Journal (5)—turned in on time
--Final Analysis/Self Evaluation (5)—followed guidelines in 13 above

Due dates:
March 12/13—Submit goal and work time
March 21/22—Journal check
March 23/26--work time in class to finish up (bring your projects to school for class); journal check
March 27/28--Paper/diagram due
March 29/30—Projects due/Presentations; Journal and self-evaluation due
NO late projects will be accepted!

At the end of this project you will become more acquainted with simple machines and energy transfer needed to make a working machine similar to the famous Rube Goldberg cartoons.

Original Webquest taken from; revised by Paula Hawks
Clip art courtesy of Rube Goldberg Gallery.