Rube Goldberg Challenge!

As we investigate Simple Machines in our current Unit of Inquiry, we ask the following question: “Who is Rube Goldberg?

Reuben Lucius Goldberg
(July 4, 1883 – December 7, 1970)
Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor. Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons he created depicting complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways – now known as Rube Goldberg machines. (from

Rube Goldberg’s cartoon, “The Self-Operating Napkin” How many simple machines do you see in this picture?

The Self-Operating Napkin is activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.

Here is a video clip from one of Mr. McKillip’s favorite children’s TV shows from Japan called PythagoraSwitch. The show producers have local university students create Rube Goldberg machines which are then introduced during the show.

Now it’s your turn! Take the Rube Goldberg Challenge!
It is your turn to try and make your own Rube Goldberg machine using what you have been learning about simple machines in class. This activity is for students that want to challenge themselves at home. Students can create their machine. Then have parents take pictures and/or video. Students can then use this evidence to present their machine to the rest of the class. Click HERE if you want to download the instruction page that will be sent home with students who are interested in doing the challenge.

Get started thinking about making your own Rube Goldberg machine by playing Goldburger To Go form PBS Kids online.

You will need to use your critical thinking/problem solving skills in order to complete the task of serving the Zoom staff their lunch. If you get stuck, you can always ask for a hint.

Here you can find some real-world Rube Goldberg Machine ideas and examples.

Good luck and HAVE FUN creating your own Rube Goldberg Machine!


2 Responses to Rube Goldberg Challenge!

  1. Danni says:

    Dear Mr. McKillip,

    Thank you for putting the Goldburger To Go machine game on our website.


  2. […] Rube Goldberg Challenge! « Welcome to IST Grade 2 As we investigate Simple Machines in our current Unit of Inquiry, we ask the following question: “Who is Rube Goldberg?” (tags: blogs) […]

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