Resurecting Rube

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Author: Judee Shipman

Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Mechanical Engineering


Design and build an invention inspired by Rube Goldberg's designs.

The goals of this project are:

  1. To create a display showcasing all of Rube Goldberg's designs.
  2. To invent a contraption inspired by him.

Research Questions:

  • What do Rube Goldberg's designs have in common?
  • What is the purpose of Rube Goldberg's inventions?

Rube Goldberg can be thought of as the Ogden Nash of Mechanical Engineering. His signature pieces are preposterously overworked mechanical contraptions designed to perform an extraordinarily simple task. In this project you will design and invent your very own absurdly complex, entirely unnecessary machine.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/hobby/hardware/craft supplies (paper, poster board, glue, etc.).
  • Ridiculous invention components (your choice).

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Read overview of relevant topics (see bibliography below)
  2. Address all of the terms and research questions mentioned here.
  3. Search and print out interesting images relevant to your topic.
  4. Take photographs throughout the course of the experiment.
  5. Design a mechanical device inspired by Rube Goldberg.
  6. Build your invention.
  7. Test the machine.
  8. Write a detailed report.
  9. Include photos, diagrams, models and demonstrations in your science fair display.


  • Chain Reaction


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