Learning how to make a Rube Goldberg Machine can be a fun activity for the whole family, especially on a rainy day.
What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?
You’re probably saying to yourself, “What the heck is a Rube Goldberg Machine?” While the name is long the answer is very simple, its a complex contraption designed to achieve a simple task.
While this might sound overwhelming most kids ages 6 and up will love this activity and the older they are the more elaborate the machine will be. Watch the video below to see a great example of a Rube Goldberg Machine.
Yours does not have to be this long or complicated as long as there are multiple steps involved to complete the task.
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Rube Goldberg Machine Materials List
It doesn’t matter what you use to build your Rube Goldberg Machine. All that matters is you get creative and have fun. Here is a Rube Goldberg Machine materials list. I’ve used all of these items when creating Rube Goldberg Machines in the past.
I repeat you do not need all these things! Just search around the house for things you have and think up creative ways to use them.
- Action figures
- Recyclable Materials (paper towel tubes, paper bags, milk jugs, etc.)
- Legos (of any size)
- Balls (tennis ball, basketball, baseball, etc.)
- Pot and Pans
- Tinker toys
- Erector sets
- Board games
- Matchbox Cars
I’m sure there are other things around your house that you’ll find during your search for materials too.
Like I’ve been saying, get creative! There is no such thing as a Rube Goldberg Machine that is too big or too small!
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How should I start?
Before you start building a Rube Goldberg machine, you need a task for it to accomplish. What simple action should your machine do? Here are some examples:
- Put a ball into a bucket
- Turn off a light
- Pop a balloon
- Water a planet
- Put toothpaste on a toothbrush
None of these ideas appeal to the kids? No worries, have them come up with something, just make sure it’s a simple task.
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Building your Rube Goldberg Machine
Now that you’ve gathered all your materials together and picked a task it’s time to start building.
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and sketch out what you want your machine to look like. The building will go easier, and more smoothly, this way.
With a sketch completed, if you’re working as a team to build the R.G. Machine assign a part of it to build to each kid. If you have one child or each kid is making their own have then start from the end and work towards the beginning. That way you know your spacing will work.
A word of caution when using dominos, I recommend adding them last. Getting them all in place and having them fall because what you were building next to it fell apart or some other mishap happened, is the WORST!
Need some inspiration? Here is a mega R.G. machine designed by the guys at Mythbusters. Their machine is really intricate, so don’t feel you need to go crazy like this, but you might get some inspiration, and it’s really fun to watch!
Rube Goldberg Machine Easy Ideas
Building a Rube Goldberg Machine doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few Rube Goldberg Machine easy ideas I’ve come up with to help you get started. These Rube Goldberg machine examples will still take a while to put together, but won’t take as long as the Myth Busters one in the video you just watched.
Easy Rube Goldberg Idea #1 – Getting a tennis Ball in a Bucket
The task this machine will complete is getting a tennis ball in a bucket. While the directions are simple and there is only a small sequence this will take you several tries to get the bucket and lego wall in the correct position. You should build this Rube Goldberg Machine on a table to the bucket can sit on the floor
- Take a matchbox car and have it either go through a tube or, if you have one handy on a matchbox car track.
- The matchbox car should bump into the first of several dominos in a fun design that you choose.
- The dominos should fan out from a single line to about 5 across. These dominos will knock over a small lego wall that has a tennis ball balanced on top.
- The lego wall will get tipped over and the ball will fall into the bucket. Rembmer to place the bucket on the floor.
Easy Rube Goldberg Idea #2 – Put toothpaste on a toothbrush
This Rube Goldberg Machine will put toothpaste on a toothbrush. Again, remember that this might take several tries to complete the task as small adjustments might need to be made to complete the task. Just like the one before, build this on a table with the last step on the floor.
- Use a matchbox car and push it down a ramp made out of an old cereal box.
- The matchbox car will run into line of dominos, you can put this is a fun design if you’d like.
- The final domino will bump into a marble or bouncy ball which will go down a tube or hanging off the edge of the table.
- At the end of the tube a cup is covering the end. The ball will enter the cup and fall off the end.
- The cup will fall to the floor and hit the first of several books sittung upright like dominos. The first book should be a lightweight magazine or book and they should get heavier as they go.
- The last book in light should be the heaviest and should fall on top of the tube of toothpaste, which will put the paste right on the tooth brush. Use the matierals of your choice to hold the toothbrush in place.