Water Your Plant! Rube Goldberg Style

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Introduction: Water Your Plant! Rube Goldberg Style

Water Your Plant! Rube Goldberg Style

This instructable (Our final group Project!) was inspired by our love for plants, gardening and of course Internet Of Things! We both garden at home with a variety of basil, chives, mint.. you name it!. We decided since Summer is around the corner that this is a tricky time for gardening since the weather is SO hot. If the weather is too hot, plants need more water! With our daily lives being so busy, we easily forget to water the plants which can cause them to dry out and die in the summer heat. This great tool both reminds you to water the plant as well as giving the plants some water when the weather is hot.

We combined a combination of multiple tools that we have been learning in university including Arduino code, Make.com, NodeRed, Blynk and an API call to get the weather!

In this tutorial we will take you through the fun "Rube Goldberg" ~esk way in which we decided to create a reminder to ourselves, and a physical way to water our plants when the weather gets too hot outside.

Previously we may have simply used Arduino to light up our switch board as a reminder, but after all the skills we have learnt, we wanted to combine all the different tools to create a fun way to do something as simple as watering your plant.

This project is great for anyone who wants to create a reminder for themselves or find a sustainable way to water your plants when you're not home. Although it is definitely an unnecessarily LONG way to do it, it's fun and you can learn great skills along the way.

By Shachar Weinmann and Liat Shear.

Hope you all enjoy :)

Video Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vmtC-oDhfNzhTVPhYyY74TEud9WucReW/view?usp=sharing

Verbal Description: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_Uh30F_BvckhD5mj-8JK_0ZufcCkJSc5/view?usp=sharing

Supplies

The "Supplies" we used include the following free online tools !

As well as of course the physical elements:

  • A plant (that needs to be watered)
  • A cellphone
  • An Arduino playground switchboard
  • A cup of water.
  • Dominos (for fun :))

Step 1: Arduino Code!

Arduino Code!

We start off with the Arduino code .

1) The Arduino code starts off by checking if the board has been exposed to light, (this will occur in the morning when the sun comes up), indicating it is time to check the weather.

2) Next, the arduino code connects to the API WeatherAPI.com and gets the current weather back from the API. It checks if the weather is > 25 degrees Celcius, indicating it is HOT outside- your plant needs water!

3) Next, the arduino code sends the "current_temperature" value to Blynk!

Attachments

Step 2: blynk.

Blynk

The Arduino Code then connects to Blynk

1) The Arduino sends the "Current_Temperature" value to blynk

2) The blynk will then connect to Make.com using a Webhook to send Make the Current Temperature and thus trigger the Make event dominos

Step 3: Make.com Part 1

Make.com Part 1

Next we move onto the Make.com part of the "machine" from Blynk

1) The Blynk sends the "current_temperature" value to the make.com server using a Webhook. This will connect to the first Make.com page.

2) The webhook on the Make.com page is triggered and causes it to send an email, triggering another make scenario, saying "The weather outside is {current_temperature}"

Step 4: Make.com Part 2

Make.com Part 2

This then triggers the Second Make.com page!

1) The second Make.com page gets triggered with this email.

2) Next, this causes the Make.com page to send a discord message reminder to "Water your Plants!"

3) This goes back to a third Make scenario which is triggered by the discord message.

4) This Discord message then does 2 things, a) it sends a webhook to trigger a fourth make scenario and b) connects back to Blynk using the Webhook to connect back to Arduino !

Step 5: Blynk

Blynk

Blynk then connects back to the Arduino code

1) Next, the Blynk connects back to the Arduino code still preserving the "Current_Temperature" value since "make finished" is toggled.

2) The Arduino code then causes the playground switchboard to light up in red and make a noise to indicate the temperature is hot since it is > 25 degrees.

3) Next Arduino can now proceeds to 'contact' NodeRed, by contacting Adafruit as a middle man.

Step 6: NodeRed

NodeRed

The next step (Yes, another one!) will be using the NodeRed tool.

1) Connect the Arduino Playground to the NodeRed tool using AdaFruit through the MQTT server.

2)This will then connect through Adafruit to Nodered and cause it to write to a text file "The current temperature is {current temperature}

2) This is the end of the first branch.

Step 7: Make.Com (part 3)

Make.Com (part 3)

Finally! for the last online tool. Make.com Part 3. Note this code is happening in parallel with the node red as the Make.com scenario uses a webhook to send a notification to the IOS device.

1) The Arduino code connects to the Make.com page again using a WebHook from Make

2) The Make.com sends an ios notification to the phone telling it to Water the plant.

3) The phone will receive the notification and cause it to vibrate from the notifications.

Step 8: RubeGoldberg Effect

RubeGoldberg Effect

Now the plant actually needs to be watered!

1)The phone will vibrate causing it to knock over the first domino

2) This will cause a "Domino Effect" and knock over the rest of the dominos

3) The last dominoe will knock over a cup of water which will fall over and finally

4) Water the Plant

(Video Demo link attached below if you'd like to check it out)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vmtC-oDhfNzhTVPhYyY74TEud9WucReW/view?usp=sharing

(PDF with instructions)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yObGq2y45FmFIbMJRDOv9eR03KU5Hz5U/view?usp=sharing

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Watering Plants, the Rube Goldbergian Way!

In the 2011 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue, 11 teams compete to water a plant in 20 or more steps. Here's the winning entry :

The winning entry was based on a time machine that followed the history of the world from the big bang to the present. It took 212 steps to finally reach a symbol of hope for the future, a mystery box that, when opened by the machine, produced a plant and a watering can. Captain Zach Umperovitch said the 17 team members spent 2,500 man hours building the machine.

Paul Di Filippo of Weird Universe has another video clip: Link

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51 Easy Rube Goldberg Project Ideas For Students [2024]

rube goldberg project ideas

Rube Goldberg is a name that sparks curiosity and creativity! Imagine a storyteller who turned simple tasks into an adventure. His unique devices, using everyday things, set off a chain reaction, making the ordinary extraordinary. Now, let’s explore the importance of these unusual inventions.

In this blog, we will unravel the interesting world of Rube Goldberg, tailored especially for students. We won’t just entertain; we will showcase how these projects blend creativity with engineering, making learning an exciting journey. Join us as we discuss Rube Goldberg project ideas, explaining the incredible fusion of imagination and education. So, get ready to ride into the world where Rube Goldberg’s creativity meets your curiosity and learning.

What is Rube Goldberg?

Table of Contents

Rube Goldberg is not just a name; it is a creative genius! He was a super-talented cartoonist who won a significant award. Even though he was not an inventor, he had a particular skill – he could draw excellent, crazy machines. In his comics, a character named Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts made these wild contraptions that seemed complicated but were supposed to work. Imagine machines with funny names doing funny things! Rube Goldberg used his drawings to poke fun at how much people loved machines in the early 1900s. So, when we talk about a “Rube Goldberg machine,” it’s like stepping into his world of hilarious inventions!

Benefits of Rube Goldberg Projects for Students

Explore the many advantages of using Rube Goldberg projects as part of your learning for a fun and useful experience.

  • Hands-On Learning Fun: Rube Goldberg projects offer a hands-on and engaging way for students to apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts playfully. It’s like turning classwork into a cool experiment!
  • Critical Thinking Boost: These projects encourage students to think creatively and solve problems. They must plan, test, and tweak their designs, fostering critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Putting together a Rube Goldberg machine requires working with others. Students learn how to work together, share ideas, and use their skills to make a chain reaction that works and is fun to watch.
  • Practical Application of Physics: Students see physics principles in action. Concepts like gravity, force, and energy become more than textbook material – they become the building blocks of their fun inventions.
  • Spark for STEM Interest: Rube Goldberg projects can interest people in STEM subjects. Making learning fun and hands-on can help students become interested in science and engineering for a long time. It’s not just about finishing a project; it’s about getting people excited about learning!

Getting Started of Rube Goldberg Project: Step-by-Step Guide

We will show you the steps to make your project ideas come true. Dive into the world of creative opportunities!

  • Define the Task: Clearly outline the simple task your machine will perform, ensuring it’s achievable yet allows for creativity.
  • Brainstorm Ideas: Gather your team and brainstorm various concepts. Encourage thinking outside the box for inventive solutions.
  • Select Materials: Identify materials readily available. Everyday household items like dominos, marbles, and cardboard are excellent choices.
  • Plan the Sequence: Sketch a rough plan detailing the sequence of steps your machine will take. Consider the flow and interaction between components.
  • Review and Refine: Evaluate your plan for feasibility and complexity. Make adjustments to enhance the machine’s functionality and entertainment value.
  • Allocate Roles: If working in a team, assign specific roles based on individual strengths, ensuring a collaborative and efficient workflow.
  • Gather Materials: Collect the chosen materials, ensuring everything is in place before construction begins.
  • Start Building: Initiate the construction phase, following your plan. Test each component as you progress to identify and address any issues.
  • Test Iteratively: Regularly test the machine during the building process. Identify and troubleshoot any problems, adjusting components for optimal performance.
  • Finalize and Refine: Finalize the design once the machine completes the task. Refine details for a polished and cohesive Rube Goldberg project.

Simple Rube Goldberg Project Ideas For School Students

Let the creativity flow as we present a spectrum of intriguing Rube Goldberg project ideas that are perfect for school students.

1. The Rolling Ball Symphony

Create a musical masterpiece by setting off a series of rolling balls that trigger various instruments. As each ball moves, it strikes different objects, producing harmonious sounds. This project explores physics and mechanics and introduces students to the creative integration of music and engineering.

2. The Book Page Turner

Design a gadget that turns the pages of a book. Use a combination of levers, strings, and simple machines to achieve this seemingly simple task. This project enhances understanding of mechanical systems and encourages problem-solving skills.

3. The Popcorn Popper

Transformed the process of making popcorn into an entertaining spectacle. Develop a machine that pops corn kernels through whimsical actions, combining elements of physics and culinary creativity.

4. The Artistic Drawing Machine

Constructs a device that creates an abstract drawing through a chain reaction. Explore the intersection of art and engineering as each component contributes to the final artistic composition. This project encourages students to think beyond functionality and embrace the aesthetic aspects of their creations.

5. The Simple Alarm Clock

Build a Rube Goldberg machine that wakes you up in the morning. Combine elements like rolling balls, levers, and pulleys to set off an alarm clock, turning waking up into an amusing and dynamic process. This project introduces students to the principles of time-triggered mechanisms.

6. The Candy Dispenser Extravaganza

Develop a candy dispenser that releases treats through a complex series of actions. Incorporate elements like inclined planes, ramps, and moving platforms to engage students in designing a sweet and entertaining project while learning about basic physics concepts.

7. The Balloon-Powered Car Race

Construct a Rube Goldberg machine that sets off a balloon-powered car race. Students can explore the principles of air pressure, friction, and motion as they design a contraption that inflates balloons to propel miniature cars forward.

8. The Domino Effect

Create a visually stunning domino effect using various objects to perform different tasks. As one domino falls, it triggers events, demonstrating the interconnectedness of actions and reactions. This classic Rube Goldberg project enhances understanding of cause and effect relationships.

9. The Recycling Revolution

Design a machine that sorts and processes recyclables. Incorporate elements like conveyor belts, levers, and containers to simulate the recycling process. This project not only educates students about the importance of recycling but also reinforces engineering and problem-solving skills.

10. The Rainbow Color Mixer

Explore the fusion of science and art by designing a Rube Goldberg machine that mixes colors. Use a series of mechanisms to blend different colored liquids, creating a visually appealing and educational experience. This project introduces students to fluid dynamics and color theory in an engaging way.

11. The Ping Pong Ball Rollercoaster

Construct a captivating rollercoaster for ping pong balls that explores concepts of potential energy, slopes, and curves. As the balls traverse the complex track, students will witness the conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy, learning fundamental principles of physics in an entertaining way. This project encourages creativity in designing rollercoaster elements and provides hands-on experience in engineering and physics.

12. The Toothpaste Squeezer

Develop a whimsical contraption that squeezes toothpaste onto a toothbrush. This project allows students to delve into the world of gears, levers, and tubes to accomplish a seemingly simple task in a unique and playful manner. Exploring concepts of mechanical advantage and fluid dynamics, students gain insights into practical applications of engineering while making the mundane act of squeezing toothpaste an exciting and educational endeavor.

13. The Automatic Plant Waterer

Create an automated system for watering plants using sensors, tubes, and containers to simulate irrigation. This project introduces students to plant care, engineering, and automation principles. Students gain practical knowledge about efficient resource distribution and environmental awareness by designing a machine that mimics the watering process.

14. The Magnetic Maze Solver

Construct an innovative machine that navigates through a maze using magnetic forces. This project explores principles of magnetism, navigation, and problem-solving. As students design a gadget that responds to magnetic cues, they gain a deeper understanding of magnetic fields and their applications in navigation, offering a unique blend of science and creative problem-solving.

15. The Paper Airplane Launcher

Build a device that launches paper airplanes, transforming a simple activity into an exciting event. This project combines elements of force, motion, and trajectory, allowing students to explore physics principles through hands-on experimentation. As they design and refine a launcher, students gain insights into aerodynamics and engineering, turning the art of launching paper planes into an engaging and educational experience.

16. The Soccer Goal Scorer

Develop a Rube Goldberg machine that scores a goal in a mini-soccer game. This project simulates the scoring process by integrating pulleys, inclined planes, and strings while introducing students to the mechanics of simple machines. Through creative problem-solving and engineering, students gain hands-on experience in designing a gadget that adds an element of playfulness to the concept of scoring goals in soccer.

17. The Shadow Puppet Show

Create a captivating contraption that puts on a shadow puppet show. This project blends light sources, cutout shapes, and moving parts to bring storytelling to life in a visually engaging way. As students design and refine their puppet show machine, they explore concepts of light and shadow, developing an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of art and science.

18. The Magnetic Maze Solver

Construct a machine that navigates through a maze using magnets. By exploring magnetic forces and navigation concepts, students engage in a unique and interactive project that combines problem-solving with scientific principles. Designing a gadget that responds to magnetic cues, students gain practical knowledge about magnetic fields and their applications in navigation, fostering a deeper understanding of physics.

19. The Rainbow Waterfall

Build a cascading waterfall of colored liquids to create a visually stunning display. This project explores fluid dynamics, density, and the visual interplay of colors. As students experiment with different liquids and flows, they gain insights into the scientific principles governing the behavior of fluids. The result is an artistic and mesmerizing display and a hands-on exploration of physics concepts.

20. The Magnetic Domino Cascade

Design a chain reaction using magnetic dominoes, exploring magnetism, alignment, and kinetic energy. This project captivates students with a mesmerizing cascade of magnetic interactions, providing a hands-on experience in the principles of physics. As students design and refine their magnetic domino setup, they gain insights into the properties of magnets and the potential for creative applications of magnetic forces.

21. The Bubble-Blowing Bonanza

Construct a machine that creates a spectacular bubble display, combining fluid dynamics, airflow, and artistic expression. This project engages students in hands-on experimentation with bubble solutions, wands, and airflow mechanisms. As they design a gadget that produces bubbles in a creative and controlled manner, students explore the scientific principles governing the behavior of fluids while unleashing their artistic flair in a visually captivating display.

List of Other Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

Let’s dive into the realm of creative possibilities with these interesting Rube Goldberg projects:

  • Pendulum Painter
  • Marble Run Symphony
  • Magnetic Maze Race
  • Cereal Box Dispenser
  • Domino Effect Art Gallery
  • Balloon-Powered Boat Race
  • Rainbow in a Jar
  • Egg Drop Challenge
  • Toothpick Tower Builder
  • Coin Sorter Contraption
  • Spoon Catapult Launch
  • Pencil Sharpener Carousel
  • Sticky Note Waterfall
  • Light-Up Constellation
  • Zip-Line Zipper Puller
  • Straw Rocket Launch
  • Miniature Golf Hole-in-One
  • Butterfly Effect Mobile
  • Flashlight Shadow Theater
  • Tea Bag Rocket Propulsion
  • Pop-Up Storybook Mechanism
  • Floating Boat Buoyancy
  • Hair Dryer Windmill
  • Bubble Wrap Stomper
  • Book Page Flipper
  • Ping Pong Ball Catapult
  • Spoon and Fork Ramp
  • Dice Roller Dice Tower
  • Magnet Maze Challenge
  • CD Spinner Light Show

Tips for Successful Rube Goldberg Projects

  • Begin with a straightforward task before adding complexity.
  • Sketch out your design and identify materials needed in advance.
  • Ensure individual components work seamlessly before assembling the complete machine.
  • Expect challenges and use them as opportunities for improvement.
  • Integrate science, technology, engineering, and math principles for an educational experience.
  • Let imagination flourish in design and problem-solving.
  • Record tests, adjustments, and final runs for a comprehensive overview.
  • Recognize and applaud creative solutions and unique approaches.

In conclusion, Rube Goldberg’s project ideas transcend mere engineering; they transform learning into an exciting journey of creativity and problem-solving. These whimsical contraptions encourage students to explore science, technology, engineering, and math concepts in a hands-on and entertaining manner. As students design and construct their elaborate machines, they gain a deeper understanding of fundamental principles and foster a love for innovation. Rube Goldberg projects teach valuable STEM skills and celebrate the joy of inventive thinking, turning each endeavor into a memorable and fulfilling experience.

1. Can Rube Goldberg projects be adapted for different age groups

Yes, Rube Goldberg projects can be tailored to suit various age groups, ensuring age-appropriate complexity and engagement.

2. What is an example of a Rube Goldberg project?

A classic example of a Rube Goldberg project is a machine designed to turn off a simple desk lamp, involving intricate and amusing chain reactions.

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Rube Goldberg Machine: High Schoolers Make Absurd Plant-Watering Device (VIDEO)

Reuben Goldberg was a jack of all trades: sculptor, author, engineer, inventor. But the man better known as "Rube" is perhaps most famous for his cartoon drawings of overly elaborate machines made to perform simple tasks. Many examples of Rube Goldberg machines are on the internet -- look no further than that amazing OK Go video .

Every year, to encourage creative problem-solving, the Argonne National Laboratory sponsors competitions for high schoolers around the country to construct Rube Goldberg machines. And at last Friday's contest at Chicago's Navy Pier, the kids from Maine South High School put together a marvel.

As NBC Chicago reports , the ten Chicago-area high schools invited to the contest were asked to make a machine that took at least 20 steps to water a plant. The Maine South team took a whopping 45 steps, constructing a whole tiny city just to splash a little water on a houseplant.

Watch their amazing creation at work:

View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com .

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rube goldberg project watering a plant

Inventors Of Tomorrow - hands-on STEM learning for kids

Inventors of Tomorrow

Hands-on science and engineering education for kids age 3 – 6, build a simple rube goldberg.

Building chain reactions is a fun parent and child project. (For ages 3 – 5, mostly this means the parent doing the design with the kids cheering you on. 6 to 9 year olds are more of an equal partner in the play. Kids age 10 and up who are into these sorts of engineering challenges will often take off with this project… after being taught the basics, they may keep building and building.)

Chain reaction set-ups are often called Rube Goldberg devices. These are named after artist Rube Goldberg who drew fantastical illustrations of overly complicated machines that do a simple task.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Introducing Kids to Chain Reactions

A key element of Rube Goldbergs is that there is a series of chain reactions. Action A triggers action B, which then causes action C, and so on, until the goal is accomplished. There are lots of YouTube videos of AMAZING, complex Rube Goldberg devices. (Click on that link for a playlist of my favorites. There’s apparently also a ton of #rubegoldberg posts on Tiktok, but I haven’t gone down that rabbit hole yet.)

But if you show those elaborate videos to a child and then say “let’s build one of those”, they’ll end up super frustrated and disappointed in themselves because there’s no way they will accomplish something anywhere near that cool. Most of those chain reactions were set up over the course of many days, by people with years of experience playing around with these ideas, and some of these videos “cheat” and use camera angles or filming edits to make it look more impressive than the actual device is. So, I also collected a playlist of simple, achievable Rube Goldberg devices that can set more realistic (though still challenging!) goals to aspire to. You could show some of these simple videos, and then say “do you think we could make a chain reaction?” Then start the experimenting.

Set an achievable goal

Start small – you can always get bigger later if you’re having fun! Try for a 3 part process:

  • Trigger a reaction to start a process that accomplishes a goal

For example, we challenge our students to build a pyramid of three toilet paper tubes and find a complicated way to knock it over. Pushing a toy car so it bumps into a ball is a trigger that starts the process of the ball rolling toward the goal of knocking down the tower.

Even with this basic 3 part process, the chain reaction usually won’t work perfectly on the first try. You’ll usually have to do a lot of tinkering with the design.

Chain reactions are actually one of the best ways to explore the engineering process : deciding what challenge you want to take on, looking at available supplies and brainstorming options, starting to build and tweaking as you go along to get to your goal. There will also be times where you’ve worked and worked to set something up, and then accidentally trigger it and have to start all over again! It can be super frustrating, so it’s a good chance to practice emotional regulation and build grit . Celebrate the failures as part of the process. (If you watch the videos on YouTube, many will show their “bloopers” and many say things like “attempt #47” to make clear that you should expect that!)

Once you’ve got a three step chain reaction working, then try adding on another process in the middle for a 4 step device, and so on and so on. You can think of each element as part of a modular system that can be swapped in and out, or arranged in a different order, to accomplish different goals. Test each segment several times to make sure it’s reliable before you try combining it with other elements.

It can be hard to predict exactly what you’ll need. Often when building a step you just have to brainstorm in the moment, then run around the house or classroom to find just the right thing. But here are some ideas that might get you started. We do this exercise after studying simple machines, so I’ll reference those below.

  • Wheels and other things that roll – balls, marbles, beads, dowels, cans, oatmeal tub, toy cars, batteries, skateboards, roll of tape
  • Levers and Things that tip over – dominoes, blocks, cereal boxes, books
  • Inclined planes (ramps) and tracks – boards, books, PVC pipes, tubes, cardboard, marble runs, gutters, car tracks or toy train tracks
  • Things to build structures with – building toys (Lego, wooden blocks, K’nex, etc.), cardboard
  • Things to fill up or dump – containers, buckets, cups, funnels and weights to fill them with (coins, blocks, water)
  • Pulleys, gears, walking wind-up toys, action figures or miscellaneous toys, craft sticks
  • Fasteners – tape, string, rubber bands (tip: if you tape down the items in the device that you don’t want to move, they’ll stay where you want them, and you won’t have to keep setting them back up over and over again)
  • Pencil and paper? Many people recommend that you draw out your device before building… I personally tend to jump straight into the build, but do what works best for you!

Location considerations : First, work somewhere with plenty of open space; that’s not someplace that family members need to walk through or use several times during the period you’re working on the device. Second, gravity is the easiest way to power the actions of a Rube Goldberg, so typically the action starts on a higher surface and moves to a lower surface… so, something hanging up high knocks down something that’s set on top of a box that’s on a table, then it drops down to the level of the table, then off the edge of the table to the stool, then down to the ground.

Let’s look at some big picture ideas of how chain reactions are built, to hopefully inspire you to think broadly about your options. Then at the end, I’ll give some sample “assignments” that are easy to accomplish. Since I recommend starting at your final goal and working your way backward, that’s how I’ll organize the components below.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

The final step of your device is to complete a task of some sort. Some examples are: turn on/off a light, fill a glass with water, water a plant, drop a bottle in a recycling bin, pop a balloon, break an egg, ring a bell, put out a candle, close a door, turn a page, raise a flag, land a ball in a basket, or knock over a tower. Decide what you want to try, and then figure out what you would need to do to accomplish that. For example, if your goal is to put out a candle, maybe the step before that is to dump water on it, so the step before that is to figure out how to knock over a cup of water. Or if the goal is to ring a bell, first you figure out how to set up the bell, then figure out what kinds of things could bump into the bell to ring it, then figure out how you’re going to move those things to the bell. Here are some optional actions to get you to your goal:

Components of a Chain Reaction

Domino chain.

This is the most classic element of a chain reaction. You can build it with dominos, or wooden blocks, or books, or mac and cheese boxes, or anything that’s in that flat rectangle shape that will stand balanced up on one end until tapped, and then fall over. For a child, the first challenge is learning what spacing is needed between blocks. If they’re too close, they may not hit with enough impact to knock the next one over. If they’re too far away, they hit low on the center of gravity of the next block and instead of tipping over, it just bumps out of the way. Once you’ve learned to set a chain of 3 blocks up, it’s easy (though tedious) to set up a chain with another 100 or so blocks. The hard part is not accidentally knocking them over too soon! (If you don’t want to accidentally trigger it too soon, you could put in a barricade here and there to make sure that IF a chain reaction started, it couldn’t get too far – or leave some gaps in a domino chain, and fill in those gaps at the last minute. One expert even recommends that once you’ve figured out placement you tape one side of the domino in place, so it acts like a hinge. When the domino gets knocked down, the tape holds it in the right place so you can just tip it up again.

Rolling Down an Inclined Plane

You can roll a ball (or a can, bottle… anything round) or anything with wheels down a ramp to trigger the next stage. (On a steep enough incline, you can slide down ANY low friction item.) Many Rubes start with this, but it can also be used in the middle of a device… you just have to have a way to stop the ball from rolling until it is time – there could be a flat platform at the top that it gets bumped off of, or there could be a gate that gets opened up to release the ball.

Ramps are usually just flat objects (boards, books, etc.) propped up on something (like a block or a book.)

Some devices have elements where an item rolls UP a hill. You have to get the weight and impact speed just right to have one item bump the next item up the hill.

Switchback Ramps

Once you’ve got one ramp working, it’s often possible to add more ramps in a back and forth pattern, and this is a fun way to build the drama.

Roll Down to Pull Up

If you’ve got a car rolling down a ramp, you can tie a string to it, and then tie an object onto the other end of that string. When the car rolls down, it pulls the other object up.

A zipline is really just a form of inclined plane. Something up high slides down the line.

It’s fun to cover part of a ramp over. If the moving object goes into a tunnel, that’s exciting as it disappears for a moment, and you hold your breath as you wait for it to reappear and continue on its path.

Screws to Move Items Up or Down

This can be simple – just using a spiral ramp to roll a ball down – it’s fun to watch the ball go around and around. Many marble maze toys include a spiral ramp, and some toy car race tracks have spiral ramps or you can build one with paper plates and a poster tube . Or you can use a funnel to get a gravity well effect, which is basically the shape of the screw . Another common use is to put a ball (or other item) on a string, and wind it up around a pole. Then when you release it, it spins around and around, with the string getting longer till the ball hits its target. (Here’s a video that includes the funnel and the tetherball effects.)

You can also use a screw to lift objects upward like an Archimedes screw. This takes more fine-tuning.

The most common lever we see is a first-class lever , seesaw style. Something falls onto the end of the lever that’s up in the air, pushing it down, and launching the other end of the lever up. Catapults are one form of lever you could use to launch an item.

A heavy item on a string or rope swings from a fulcrum to knock into something.

Pulleys and Weights

A classic use for this machine is to have a pulley with baskets / buckets tied on each end of the rope. When something drops into the basket that’s up high, it goes down, bringing the other basket up. This mechanism is often used with a water drip… more and more water is added to a bucket till it gets heavy enough to go down.

You can also just simply tie a string onto any object, then add some weight to the other end of the string. When you knock the weight off the table, it pulls on the string and drags the object across the table.

Yon can either use a bouncy item, like a rubber ball, or create a bouncy surface, like a trampoline. When something drops down, it bounces back up. If you get the angles just right, you get both that vertical change and a horizontal change from one part of the room to another. One way to make a bouncy trampoline is to cut the “neck” off a balloon, then stretch the remaining part of the balloon across the top of a cup or other container.

Triggers / Releases

Setting up a chain reaction takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It all has to be poised on the verge of the chain reaction, but then wait in that state until the exact moment you want the reaction triggered. So, there are a variety of ways to hold elements in place till it’s time for the reaction to start. You could lift a gate, swing a pendulum, tap on a domino. Some devices start with a cell phone resting on an inclined plane. When you call the phone, it vibrates, and the vibration causes it to slide down the ramp and trigger the chain reaction. Some start with a pet nudging something, or walking away and having their leash tug on a trigger. Some start with a fan blowing, a mousetrap snapping, a candle burning through a string, or a wind-up toy walking into something.

You have to have just the right amount of force to trigger the next item in the chain. One of the easiest ways to adjust force is with gravity – like if a ball rolling down a ramp hits too hard, make the ramp less steep. If it needs to hit harder, make the ramp steeper.

Some Set-Ups to Try

I’ve grabbed screen captures of lots of elements from videos in my playlist of simple, achievable Rube Goldberg devices . These are all elements that use simple materials you have at home. You can click on any picture for a better look. Pick out a few to try. If you get a couple separate elements working and you’re having fun, you could try stringing multiple elements together.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Toy Car on a Ramp to Ring a Bell or Pop a balloon . Set up a ramp for the car. Find a way to trigger the car to start it moving so it rolls down the ramp, hits the bell hard enough to ring it, or hits the balloon hard enough to pop it. Hint: if it’s not hitting with enough force – you may need to make the ramp steeper to make it roll faster. (For the balloon: Put a pushpin, tack or needle on the front of a toy car.)

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Knock down a domino chain. 1) Roll a marble through a ramp made from a paper towel tube, 2) include fidget spinners in a domino chain – they help you change direction, 3) use a ball to knock over book-dominos to knock into another ball, or 4) set up a domino chain to travel UP a stack of books.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

  • Mount a wooden bar so you can lift one end up, let it go, and it will swing into a water bottle and tip it over to fill a cup. (You could get the same effect with a pendulum mounted on a string.)
  • Set up a seesaw lever of a ruler balanced over a marker, set a ball on one end of the ruler, then knock over a book so it lands on the other end of the ruler and launches the ball in the air.
  • The cereal box takes some work, but is a fun challenge: Poke a pencil through an empty cereal box, then balance that on two Lego columns. Put just a little cereal inside. Play with how to get it to tip to pour out the cereal. Then tie a string to it to prevent it from tipping, and tuck that string under a block… now think about what chain reaction step you want to use to knock the block off the string and make the cereal box tip. (Photo and idea from Hands On As We Grow , and idea from here )
  • Set up a lever seesaw of a cardboard plank over a toilet paper tube. Put the car on one end, then use a string to pull up that end. The car drives to the other end of the ramp and pops the balloon.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

  • Set one pulley up high, and another down low. Tie one end of the string to a bucket of items, then bring the string up through the high pulley, down through the low pulley, and attach to a clothespin. What can you make land on the clothespin to make it open, which will let the bucket fall?
  • Set up a pulley so when the ball falls in the bucket, the other end of the rope will pull up a ramp to make the car roll.
  • Set up a pulley so when car #1 falls into the bucket and the bucket goes down, the pulley will lift up the lever platform that car #2 is on so car #2 will roll.
  • Tie a flag on a string. Put the string over the top of a cardboard “flagpole”, then tie a tennis ball on the other end of the string. When the ball is knocked off the table, it pulls down one end of the rope, which brings the flag up.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Ramps / Inclined Planes . One of the easiest ways to move something from one place to another is to roll it down a hill. So, there’s LOTS of inclined planes in chain reactions. See the list of supplies at the top and these pictures for ideas of materials to use. Once you’ve figured out one ramp, it’s fun to set up switchbacks, where your ball (or car or…) rolls one direction, then the other and so on as it goes down. The most intriguing ramp for me is the bottom, where they cut paper to create a spiral ramp around a water bottle. The geometry of it is challenging!

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Bounce and Pour : Try playing with bounces – 1) the ball falls from the table, bounces off one pot and into another – you have to have your angles just right . 2) You can create a “trampoline” by stretching part of a balloon over the top of the container. A common goal of Rubes is to “water a plant” – basically, knock a cup of water over so it pours onto a plant. 3) You could roll or bounce a ball into the cup of water, or you could 4) knock over a series of domino-books to knock over the water.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Triggers . To get the action started, you can 1&2) have something fall into a car to push it down a ramp, 3) roll a roll of duct tape into a domino chain, or 4) have a cell phone vibrate its way down a ramp to hit the domino chain.

That’s just some ideas to get you started. As you can see, the only limit on Rube Goldberg design is your imagination!

More about Rube Goldbergs

This article in the Verge talks about the history of Rube Goldberg, and about modern RG competitions.

This video provides a brief introduction to Rube Goldberg devices and the annual competition, but it also talks about how parents and children working together on devices provided a welcome distraction during the coronavirus lockdowns. They touch on the fact that building a chain reaction requires a great deal of patience, persistence, and the willingness to try again and again to get it right.

More resources

Here are the most helpful explanations I found for teaching kids how to build chain reactions.

  • WikiHow: How to Build a Homemade RG
  • Tinkerlab Build a Rube Goldberg
  • Hands On As We Grow: RG to Pour Cereal
  • Brain Power Family: Rube Goldberg Devices
  • Connections Academy Build your own RG
  • This Sesame Street video

Lesson plans for middle schoolers: https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_simp_machines_lesson05_activity1 and https://www.teachengineering.org/lessons/view/cub_simp_machines_lesson05

Look here for more ideas for fun Contraptions activities for kids age 3 – 6. That post includes recommended children’s books that relate to contraptions or Rube Goldbergs.

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Water a Plant - Machine #25 (To be Updated)

Are you prepared for Dr. Boom’s latest diabolical invention? Watch his scientific marvel, the BOOMSDAY DEVICE! This meticulously constructed Rube Goldberg machine is armed with fireballs, ice slides, rockets, Tesla coils, lightning, and SO MUCH MORE! Dr. Boom means business when it comes down to being the world’s best mad genius!

Machine Task: Bring the computer game " Hearthstone" to Life and Simulate Real Gameplay with Fire & Ice Based Modules

Step Count: 63

Machine Build Type: One-Take Style - filmed from start to finish in only one unedited clip, which we achieved on only our SECOND attempt! Even though we were filming using a cameraman guided steady-cam, a large electro-magnet rig dropped from the ceiling while the rockets were igniting, allowing the seamless transition when the Tesla coil activates and we "escape back into the virtual world."

Year Built: 2018

Additional Info: All that fire certainly made the set hot...but add in the 100°F weather courtesy of filming in Los Angeles in July... we were ROASTING! Even with x2 massive air conditioner units we had hired in, the set never reached below 90°F while working. As you can imagine, we had to change out those ice blocks fairly often! 

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2011 Rube Goldberg machines will water a plant

rube goldberg project watering a plant

Zach Umperovitch and Lucas Dull of the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers applaud the progress of their machine during the 2010 Rube Goldberg local competition. The PSPE team took first place and advanced to the national competition. (Purdue University file photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Watering a plant is a fairly simple task - until it's done by a Rube Goldberg machine and requires at least 20 steps.

This year's challenge for the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is to water a plant. The contest, sponsored by Purdue University's Phi Chapter of Theta Tau engineering fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity.

The contest's namesake is the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.

Four teams will compete Feb. 26 in this year's local competition at Purdue. The winner will move on to the national contest, which will be at Purdue on March 26.

The 29th annual local event will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Purdue Armory. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public and is part of Purdue's celebration of National Engineers Week.

The competition pits teams of students and their machines against each other with the goal of completing a simple task in the most complicated way possible. Teams will be judged on the complexity, creativity and ingenuity they use to design the machines and perform the task. The winning machine must complete two successful runs, and points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Twenty steps is the minimum number required to complete the task, but most teams will use many more.

"We're particularly pleased that this year's task was suggested by Jennifer George, a descendent of Rube Goldberg's," said Alex Gaul, Theta Tau's national contest chairman and an electrical and computer engineering major.

Purdue teams competing in this year's local contest are the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; Society of Women Engineers; National Society of Black Engineers and Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists; and Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Sponsors for this year's event are BAE Systems, Omega Engineering, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins, Alcoa, Priio and Ethicon Endo-Surgery.

A regional high school Rube Goldberg Machine Contest will be held the same day. The high school event is coordinated by the Purdue Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists. It will begin after the college competition at about 11:30 a.m.

The winning team will advance to the national high school Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on March 19 at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.

Teams participating, all from Indiana, are from Clinton Prairie High School, Frankfort ; Owen Valley High School, Spencer ; Kouts High School, Kouts ; Eastbrook High School, Marion ; Centerville High School, Centerville ; Anderson High School, Anderson ; Terre Haute North High School, Terre Haute ; and Rochester High School, Rochester .

Rube Goldberg earned a degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1904. He worked as an engineer for the city of San Francisco for less than a year before becoming a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his political cartoons published by the New York Sun.

More information on the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest can be found at https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/rubegoldberg/index.html  

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, [email protected]  

Source:     Alex Gaul, [email protected]

                  Jaime Ho, Society of Women Engineers, [email protected]

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How to Build a Homemade Rube Goldberg Machine

Last Updated: September 24, 2023

This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 1,076,483 times. Learn more...

Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a scientist and cartoonist who produced satirical work on people’s overly complex problem solving methods. In his comical cartoons, he linked together chain reactions with simple machines to complete basic tasks, like turning on a lamp or frying an egg. [1] X Research source Designing and building a Rube Goldberg machine requires innovation and patience. While every machine is different, many builders include versions of other people's ideas, tweaking them or linking them in exciting ways.

Preparing for the Assignment or Competition

Step 1 Understand the rules.

  • If the material is unclear, ask your teacher, parent, or an official to clarify.
  • If you don’t follow the rules, you may get a poor grade or be disqualified from the competition. [2] X Research source

Step 2 Select a basic task for your machine to accomplish.

  • Open or close a door
  • Turn on a light
  • Turn off an alarm
  • Pour a bowl of cereal
  • Turn on a faucet

Step 3 Look for inspiration.

  • Rube Goldberg’s original cartoons
  • Rube Goldberg Competition submissions
  • YouTube videos of functioning Rube Goldberg machines

Designing Your Machine

Step 1 Collect your materials.

  • Wooden boards
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • CDs or floppy discs
  • Skateboards
  • Action figures
  • Get creative! [3] X Research source

Step 2 Experiment with the materials.

  • Ask yourself questions throughout the process. What object can you use to send a car down a wooden ramp? What materials will you need to make a pendulum? What can you make with a lever, a marble, and an action figure?

Step 3 Develop a building plan.

  • Task: Pop a balloon.
  • Step 3: A tack will pop the balloon. The tack will be attached to the front of a toy car.
  • Link 1: The toy car will slide down a wooden ramp.
  • Step 2: A pendulum will swing into the car and push it down the wooden ramp.
  • Step 1: I will send the pendulum towards the car at the top of the wooden ramp.

Step 4 Build a prototype.

  • If you run into an issue, don’t panic. Return to your notes and see if you can combine the materials in a different way.
  • If you are using tools, ask an adult for help. [4] X Research source

Testing and Revising Your Machine

Step 1 Test your machine for feasibility.

  • Can you quickly fix the problem?
  • Do you need to replace an entire step?
  • Are you using the best materials?
  • Is your task possible to achieve?

Step 2 Build your final product and test its repeatability.

  • What steps are working?
  • What steps are preventing the machine from working?
  • Is your task achievable?

Step 3 Test the machine’s reliability.

  • Before you present the machine, practice taking it apart and putting it back together several times.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Use materials that you can easily adjust, like peg boards, building blocks, etc. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Before you construct your entire machine, you may want to test each step and link. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

Tips from our Readers

  • It might be easier to work backward! Try starting with the final thing the machine will do and reverse-engineer your project from there.
  • Remember, this is your own machine! You can get inspiration from others, but be creative and put your own twist on your machine.
  • This can be a tough project but don't give up! Be proud of the hard work you're putting in and have fun with it.

rube goldberg project watering a plant

  • Be cautious and work under adult supervision if you are using potentially dangerous items. Thanks Helpful 22 Not Helpful 13

You Might Also Like

rube goldberg project watering a plant

  • ↑ https://www.rubegoldberg.org/all-about-rube/a-cultural-icon/
  • ↑ http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/853277/11788139/1303160446880/HowtoBuild.pdf?token=katFNsAhIL9TaIXmyhvObs5POFk%3D
  • ↑ http://mousetrapcontraptions.com/tips-9.html

About This Article

wikiHow Staff

A Rube Goldberg machine is a machine that's made out of building materials and everyday items that performs a simple task through a complex chain reaction. For example, the machine could turn on a lamp by rolling a ball down a slope to press a button. To make one, choose the materials you want to use, which can be anything from CDs to wooden boards, balls, pins, or fans. Once you have your materials, combine them in a unique way to perform your chosen task. For instance, if your machine is going to pop a balloon, you might pull a lever to send a car down a ramp so it pushes a pin into the balloon. You’ll probably want to build a simple prototype of your machine first out of less expensive materials so that you can make changes easily if something doesn’t work as planned. If your tests work, build the final version of your machine. For tips on how to troubleshoot your prototype, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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75 Rube Goldberg Project Ideas [Updated]

rube goldberg project ideas

Have you ever heard of Rube Goldberg machines? They’re like super cool and crazy inventions made to do simple stuff but in the most fun and complicated ways ever! Imagine rolling marbles or making a book page flip with a bunch of cool gadgets and doodads. These machines are all about being creative, solving problems, and having a blast with science and engineering stuff. So, in this blog, we’re going to check out some awesome Rube Goldberg project ideas that you can totally try on your own, whether you’re just starting out or you’re ready for a big challenge. Let’s dive in and have some fun!

How Do You Do A Rube Goldberg Project?

Table of Contents

Doing a Rube Goldberg project is all about letting your imagination run wild and having fun with it! Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get you started:

  • Pick a Simple Task: Choose a basic task you want your Rube Goldberg machine to accomplish, like turning off a light switch, popping a balloon, or ringing a bell.
  • Gather Materials: Look around your house for items you can use to build your machine. Think about things like toy cars, dominos, ramps, balls, string, tape, cardboard, and anything else you can find.
  • Plan Your Design: Sketch out a rough design of how you want your machine to look and how each part will connect to the next. Start with the end goal in mind and work backward to figure out the sequence of actions.
  • Build Your Machine: Start building your machine one step at a time, connecting each part together as you go. Test each step as you add it to make sure everything is working properly.
  • Test and Tweak: Once your machine is built, it’s time to test it out! Start at the beginning and watch as each action triggers the next one in a chain reaction. If something doesn’t work, don’t worry! Just tweak it until it does.
  • Share Your Creation: Finally, share your Rube Goldberg machine with friends and family. You can make a video of it in action or invite them over to see it in person. They’ll be amazed by your creativity and ingenuity!

Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and be creative. There’s no right or wrong way to build a Rube Goldberg machine, so let your imagination soar and see where it takes you!

75 Rube Goldberg Project Ideas: Category-Wise

Simple rube goldberg project ideas.

  • Dominoes knocking over to trigger a series of events.
  • Using a rolling marble to activate switches and levers.
  • Dropping a ball onto a seesaw to launch another object.
  • Pulling a string to release a spring-loaded mechanism.
  • Placing a weight on one end of a lever to lift an object on the other end.
  • Tipping over a cup to pour water into a container.
  • Balancing objects on a beam to cause it to tilt and activate a switch.
  • Using a pulley system to lift and drop objects.
  • Pushing a toy car down a ramp to hit a target.
  • Blowing air through a straw to move an object.

Intermediate Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Constructing a mini-golf course with various obstacles.
  • Creating a chain reaction with falling dominos and flying toys.
  • Setting up a simple alarm clock to ring using a series of actions.
  • Building a device to pop a balloon with a dart.
  • Designing a contraption to flip a light switch on or off.
  • Using magnets to attract and repel objects in motion.
  • Incorporating pulleys and counterweights to create movement.
  • Designing a machine to dispense a treat for a pet.
  • Setting up a series of gears and cogs to turn a crank.
  • Creating a device to launch a paper airplane.

Advanced Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Designing a complex system to water plants automatically.
  • Building a mechanism to sort different types of objects into separate containers.
  • Constructing a contraption to crack an egg into a bowl.
  • Creating a device to mix ingredients for baking.
  • Designing a machine to launch a rocket or model spaceship.
  • Setting up a system to play a simple musical tune.
  • Building a miniature roller coaster with loops and twists.
  • Constructing a device to feed a pet on a timer.
  • Designing a contraption to blow out candles on a birthday cake.
  • Creating a machine to draw a picture or write a message.

Kitchen-Themed Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Making a simple breakfast using a series of kitchen gadgets.
  • Creating a device to make a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Setting up a system to pour a bowl of cereal and milk.
  • Designing a contraption to butter a slice of bread.
  • Building a machine to crack and scramble an egg.
  • Constructing a device to peel a piece of fruit.
  • Creating a mechanism to stir a pot on the stove.
  • Designing a contraption to squeeze juice from a fruit.
  • Setting up a system to toast a slice of bread.
  • Building a machine to scoop and serve ice cream.

Science-Themed Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Demonstrating simple physics principles like gravity and inertia.
  • Building a contraption to demonstrate how a simple machine works.
  • Designing a machine to demonstrate the transfer of energy.
  • Setting up a system to show how pulleys and levers can be used to lift heavy objects.
  • Creating a device to illustrate how gears and cogs work together.
  • Constructing a machine to show the properties of magnets.
  • Designing a contraption to demonstrate how sound waves travel.
  • Setting up a system to show how light can be refracted or reflected.
  • Building a machine to demonstrate the properties of air pressure.
  • Creating a device to show how heat energy can be transferred.

Nature-Themed Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Setting up a system to water plants using rainwater collected in a container.
  • Designing a contraption to scare away pests from a garden.
  • Creating a machine to feed birds or squirrels in the backyard.
  • Building a device to catch rainwater for watering plants.
  • Constructing a contraption to create a mini-ecosystem in a terrarium.
  • Designing a machine to simulate the movement of ocean waves.
  • Setting up a system to create a mini-avalanche using sand or soil.
  • Building a device to mimic the movement of animals in the wild.
  • Creating a contraption to create a mini-thunderstorm using sound effects and lights.
  • Designing a machine to simulate the growth of plants from seed to harvest.

Art-Themed Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Creating a contraption to mix colors and create a painting.
  • Building a machine to create a sculpture using various materials.
  • Setting up a system to play a musical instrument like a piano or guitar.
  • Designing a contraption to create a kinetic sculpture that moves in interesting ways.
  • Constructing a device to create a piece of digital art using a computer program.
  • Building a machine to create a stop-motion animation using objects and props.
  • Setting up a system to create a piece of performance art using actors and props.
  • Designing a contraption to create a piece of interactive art that responds to the viewer.
  • Creating a machine to create a piece of art using unconventional materials like food or recycled objects.
  • Building a device to create a piece of art using a specific technique like collage or printmaking.

Holiday-Themed Rube Goldberg Project Ideas

  • Designing a contraption to deliver a gift on a holiday like Christmas or Hanukkah.
  • Building a machine to create a festive decoration like a wreath or garland.
  • Setting up a system to play a holiday-themed song or music.
  • Creating a device to create a festive light display using LED lights.
  • Designing a contraption to launch fireworks on a holiday like the Fourth of July.

Tips for Designing and Building Rube Goldberg Projects

Designing and building Rube Goldberg projects can be both challenging and rewarding. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Start with a Clear Goal: Define the simple task you want your Rube Goldberg machine to accomplish. Whether it’s turning off a light switch or popping a balloon, having a clear goal will guide your design process.
  • Plan Carefully: Sketch out your design and think about how each step will connect to the next. Consider the materials you’ll need and how they’ll interact with each other. Planning ahead will help you avoid problems later on.
  • Keep It Simple: While Rube Goldberg machines are known for their complexity, it’s important to start with a simple design, especially if you’re new to building them. Focus on creating a smooth sequence of actions that lead to your end goal.
  • Use Household Items: Look around your house for materials you can use to build your machine. Common items like dominoes, toy cars, ramps, and balls can be repurposed to create exciting chain reactions.
  • Test as You Go: As you build each step of your machine, test it to make sure it works as intended. This will assist you in pinpointing any problems at an early stage and adapting your approach as necessary.
  • Embrace Trial and Error: Constructing a Rube Goldberg contraption frequently requires extensive experimentation and refining. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and techniques until you find what works best for your project.
  • Incorporate Simple Machines: Explore the use of simple machines like levers, pulleys, inclined planes, and wheels to add movement and complexity to your machine. Understanding how these machines work can help you design more efficient mechanisms.
  • Pay Attention to Timing: Timing is crucial in Rube Goldberg machines, as each action needs to happen at the right moment to trigger the next one. Experiment with the placement of objects and the speed of movement to achieve the desired timing.
  • Document Your Progress: Take photos or videos as you build your machine to document your progress and capture any noteworthy moments. Not only is this helpful for troubleshooting, but it’s also a fun way to share your project with others.
  • Have Fun and Be Creative: Above all, remember to have fun and let your creativity shine! Rube Goldberg projects are all about thinking outside the box and coming up with inventive solutions to everyday tasks. So don’t be afraid to get creative and enjoy the process of building something truly unique.

Rube Goldberg projects are more than just fun and games—they’re a celebration of creativity, ingenuity, and the joy of invention. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced engineer, there’s always something new to explore in the world of Rube Goldberg project ideas. So gather your materials, unleash your imagination, and embark on your own Rube Goldberg adventure. Who knows what amazing contraptions you’ll come up with next?

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COMMENTS

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