Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Building a Rube Goldberg Machine

Facing a rainy weekend?  Kids bored?  Are you bored and looking for a cheap activity to do with your kids?  Then build a Rube Goldberg Machine.  A Rube Goldberg Machine is a device that you build out of any random pieces that is designed to complete a very easy task in a very complicated way.  The best analogy to a Rube Goldberg Machine is the Mouse Trap board game.

The goal in Mouse Trap is to drop the cage on the mouse, but it's done in a many step, complicated process.  For the Rube Goldberg Machine you decide what the task is (e.g. turning on a lamp, popping a balloon, etc.) and then build a machine that takes many steps to complete the process.

There's really no need to buy any supplies.  Just find random things in your house to complete your steps.  Want to make the task more challenging?  Add more steps!  I do this as a project in my physics classes for high school classes.  Here a few pictures of Rube Goldberg Machines they designed.

In the above Rube Goldberg Machine, the goal is to ring the bell on the right.  A marble is dropped through a partial pop bottle, down a couple of ramps, it turns a ferris wheel, tips a ramp, and pulls on a string that rings the bell.  

The options for your Rube Goldberg Machine are limitless.  Use your imagination as a parent, and let your kids use their imagination to decide on and build steps to complete a random task.  

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