Designing, building, presenting Rube Goldberg machines in Physics

Rube Goldberg Macheines

As part of their study on potential energy, freshmen physics students created Rube Goldberg machines — machines intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overcomplicated fashion. These machines often consist of a series of simple devices linked together to produce a domino effect.

Working in groups, students built elaborate machines for tasks like making lemonade, blowing a bubble, turning on a light, and typing a letter — calculating the gravitational potential energy of an object by using the equation mass x acceleration of gravity x height.

They presented their final projects to the class and also created an energy report and a video demonstrating their device.

Check out the clip below to see how students created a Rube Goldberg machine to turn on the lights.


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