Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Rube Goldberg Machine

Figure from experiment 16 from Physics Explorations and Projects


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.

Learning Outcomes

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

Sensors and Equipment

No probeware required for this experiment.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (HS-PS3)

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Experiment 16 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Go to top