This project challenges students to build a simple, mechanical Rube Goldberg-type machine. All the energy involved should be mechanical energy, so no thermal energy, electrical energy, or electromagnetic energy is allowed.

The general approach is to provide some level of excitement around the possibilities by showing students some of the resources noted below, or videos of past classes’ work. Then explain the criteria for the activity, the resources available and the constraints (such as time and space).

We have provided an example Student Information handout with a fair level of detail as a starting point. You will need to customize this for your own situation depending on your particular goals and time constraints.


  • Design and build a working machine.
  • Use tools effectively to manipulate common materials.