Rube Goldberg


Rube Goldberg Machine

Overall Goal

This is a great team building activity that celebrates student voice, creative thinking and problem solving as students work with the materials provided to make their portion of a giant machine. 

Then as a culminating activity the students will combine all their smaller portions of the machine to create a larger more elaborate set up. 

Grade 6 Curriculum Connections

Art- Apply the creative process to produce artwork in 2 and 3 dimensional forms.

  • Students will develop an understanding of all principles of design.
  • Use a variety of tools, materials, techniques and technologies to determine solutions to design challenges.

Math- Measurement- converting from larger to smaller metric units.

  • Data management and probability. Collecting and organizing discrete and continuous data.


Program Description

A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complex machine designed to solve a simple problem. The making of one of these machines is a team building cooperative activity that allows students lots of room for creativity.

The students will be given a problem to solve given certain materials with which to complete their task. The students will be broken into small groups and given a portion of the task to complete. The groups will then present their parts of the machine.

As a grand finale the students will build a great machine putting all of the smaller pieces into motion to accomplish a single task. The machine may be modified and any problems will be solved.

Success Criteria/Learning Goals

  1. Students will be able to design and construct a Rube Goldberg machine.
  2. students will learn about the effects of gravity on various objects.
  3. Students will learn about chain reactions and transference of energy. 

Pre-Trip Activity 
New to Rube Goldberg Machines ? - Let the crew at Sesame Street provide a fun introduction. A reminder for the students about simple machines would be helpful for this program. Here is another fun clip on demonstrating the use of a Rube Goldberg Machine to Pass the Salt

Next Step Environmental Action
Machines and technology have made our lives much easier. They allow humans to do more with less effort. This can both help and hurt the climate. Consider the TV remote - It helps turn the TV on change the settings and channels, all of which can be changed by going to the TV. Easier ? Definitely. Are remotes more wasteful? Absolutely! Keep this in mind when redesigning your machine. Take a more environmentally friendly path to success. What products were used? How much plastic? Are the items disposable or reusable ? How can you change the design to accomplish the same goal with a smaller ecological impact. Earth Day Rube Goldberg Design Some places on earth people struggle to bring water to and from a water source. Are there principals of a rube goldberg machine that could help and change the course of fetching a pail of water?

Crazy Contraptions:Build Rube goldberg machines that swoop, spin, stack, and swivel 
621.825 per tdsb library

Problem-based Learning
in the physical science classroom k-12
500.2 mcc tdsb professional library
DLab:Building a Rube Goldberg machine
TDSB virtual library


This activity is suitable for the fall, winter and early spring.