How to Make a Rube Goldberg Machine

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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Great creative and have fun at the same time by building a Rube Goldberg Machine. Have the kids gather together plenty of materials and get building!

Suggested Materials to build a Rube Goldberg Machine

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 list of things I’ve used to create a Rube Goldberg Machine 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.

  • Dominos
  • Action figures
  • String
  • Tape
  • Recyclable Materials (paper towel tubes, paper bags, milk jugs, etc.)
  • Buckets
  • Marbles
  • Legos (of any size)
  • Balls (tennis ball, basketball, baseball, etc.)
  • Pot and Pans
  • Boxes
  • Cups
  • Tinker toys
  • Erector sets
  • Board games

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 your R.G. machine, you need a task for it to accomplish. What simple action should your machine do? Here are some examples:

  • But 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!

Have you built a Rube Goldberg Machine? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments!

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