The Rube Goldberg machine, named after Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, is a deliberately over-engineered apparatus that performs an extremely simple task in complex, creative, and inventive ways. The contraption begins with a simple push creating a domino effect that will trigger each of the finely tuned, individual components of the experiment. Students may also drop of a steel ball bearing in order to initiate the fascinating chain reaction. In either case, the more intricate and complex the reaction, the better the machine is considered.
Developing the machines was a fun project for Mr. Robison’s 8th grade Science class, but the chain reaction was just the beginning of their education. Students had to justify and explain the various components of their device, explaining how scientific concepts and laws are utilized throughout the entire experiment. For each machine, students must incorporate elements of acceleration, gravity, magnetism, velocity, and even a moment of going airborne.
Below are several examples of the students’ work. As you can see, each project is extremely unique, well thought out, and intricate. Students anticipating how the various components will work together, explaining the science behind the project, and incorporating cross curricular education into their videos is everything desired in a 21st century learning environment.
Great job, students, and thank you, Mr. Robison, for such an amazing activity!