What Is a Rube Goldberg Machine – How Does It Work

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Ever witness a working Rube Goldberg device? You most likely did, even if you had no idea what it was. A Rube Goldberg device is a device that accomplishes a straightforward task through a series of events. It accomplishes a simple task in a convoluted manner.

Let’s examine a concrete illustration. We’ll talk about a Rube Goldberg contraption that wipes someone’s chin with a napkin. You must admit that task is fairly easy. You’ll have to wait until you hear how the machine operates!

Who Is Rube Goldberg

Engineer and cartoonist Rube Goldberg was both. He was well known for using an intricate device created for a simple task to draw cartoons.

A Rube Goldberg device employs a series of actions that happen one after another, triggering the final event. Each reaction is frequently a straightforward action that sets off the subsequent one, such as a line of dominoes, a carefully considered object in swing, or a ball rolling down a ramp. The most crucial factor is that each step’s event must set off the subsequent event, and so on.

Many factors, including accuracy, endurance, and patience, will be important. You are only limited by your imagination, time, and available resources. Throughout the machine’s engineering process, failure is to be welcomed and celebrated. Every failure will teach you something new that you can use to improve your machine. It also just makes everything much more enjoyable. I adore remembering the times when my family and I collaborated to build the most absurd things. We would act silly and laugh when things would inevitably go wrong. Even as an adult, I have clung to what happened next, which was the ability to learn from my mistakes and move on. Even though my parents sometimes dismissed it as being stubborn, I do recall sitting for hours trying various approaches until I discovered the answer to the issue.

Trying is the only thing left to do. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new setups and approaches. As you test each component of your grand machine, look closely. Check to see if you can trigger the next event in any new or improved ways after each pass. Ask for assistance when you’re feeling frustrated. You’ll be surprised at how others approach the issue and come up with a solution that you might not have considered on your own. As your machine comes together, embrace the difficulty and revel in the glory.

What Is A Rube Goldberg Device?

A Rube Goldberg machine is a machine with many complex steps that is designed to carry out a simple task. Because of this, a chain reaction machine is another name for a Rube Goldberg device. Pop culture is full of examples of Rube Goldberg devices, which have appeared in a number of movies, songs, and video games. For instance, in the movie Edward Scissorhands, there is a factory full of tiny robots that use levers and pulleys to perform various tasks. In the opening scene of the cult classic The Goonies, a Rube Goldberg device is visible at the Walshes’ gate. The music videos by the band OK Go are renowned for incorporating Rube Goldberg devices. The board game Mouse Trap is another well-known example of a Rube Goldberg machine. In order to win this game, players take turns constructing a complex device that traps opponents.

Rube Goldberg Cartoons

The increasingly complex machines in Rube Goldberg’s cartoons performed simple tasks. The irony was found in the fact that complicated machines with numerous moving parts were used to perform such basic tasks as serving toast. From 1912 until the present, numerous well-known publications have featured cartoons by Rube Goldberg. Professor Butts, a caricature scientist who appeared in many cartoons as a mad scientist, was invented by Rube Goldberg in 1928. One of the most well-known cartoons was the Self-Operating Napkin, which required a number of intricate steps to have a napkin clean the user’s mouth. In this particular cartoon, some of the steps involved a parrot, a rocket, a lighter, and a set of pulleys.

23. What Is a Rube Goldberg Machine2

How To Make A Rube Goldberg Machine

A Rube Goldberg project is not exclusive to comic books. Many physics and engineering instructors adore using Rube Goldberg devices in the classroom to clarify physics concepts. Rube Goldberg machines use six types of simple machines:

  1. Inclined plane
  2. Lever
  3. Wedge
  4. Wheel and axle
  5. Pulley
  6. Screw

Household items like aluminum foil, string, cups, balloons, toy cars, wheels, cogs, and more are used to build these simple machines. Practically any commonplace item can be incorporated into a Rube Goldberg machine to create amazing mechanical displays. Even a live parrot appeared in a Rube Goldberg cartoon.

Because they can be used to illustrate physics concepts, Rube Goldberg machines are a favorite among teachers. For example, the principle of conservation of energy states that energy is never created or destroyed but rather is transferred between different forms. The Rube Goldberg machine is a good example of this. The energy that starts the chain reaction is ultimately used to complete a straightforward task. A Rube Goldberg machine also demonstrates the law of conservation of momentum, which similarly states that momentum is not created or destroyed, but rather is transferred between objects during a collision. Students can better understand how forces operate by using Rube Goldberg machines. In terms of distance, forces are an acceleration of mass. Students can see how Rube Goldberg machines use forces to generate motion.

Although physics and engineering professors love Rube Goldberg machines, care must be taken to define a project’s reasonable scope. Some extremely complex Rube Goldberg machines can require an entire course to construct. Teachers must make sure that the scope is appropriate when choosing Rube Goldberg projects for their students. Some examples of reasonable Rube Goldberg tasks include:

  • Serving toast
  • Lowering an object from the ceiling to the floor
  • Moving a marble across the room

Other tasks, like preparing and serving a full meal, would be way too difficult for any students to handle. An entire group of engineers would be needed to complete such a task!

How To Plan Your Rube Goldberg Machine In 3 Steps

Even though these gadgets aren’t useful, they are unquestionably entertaining, imaginative, and instructive! Building a Rube Goldberg machine is a fantastic hands-on activity for all ages and encourages kids to exercise their STEM skills. If you want to help your kids create their own Rube Goldberg device, the following list of ideas and instructions can be helpful.

1. Identify Your Rube Goldberg Machine Task

Tasks are the actions or outcomes you hope to achieve when your Rube Goldberg machine is finished.

Task suggestions include turning off a light, shattering a can, placing a bottle in the recycling bin, watering a plant, sowing seeds in a pot of soil, popping a balloon, filling a glass with water, closing a door, dabbing toothpaste on a toothbrush, or turning off an alarm clock.

2. Choose Your Supplies

Choosing your materials is crucial because they affect how the machine operates and how well it completes the specified task, depending on how complex or simple it is. Find at least three recyclable materials, then set a challenge for your child. Remember that during the construction process, you might change your mind and decide to add or remove materials.

The following are just a few examples of the materials and objects that could be used: aluminum foil, cardboard, water bottles, toilet paper or paper towel tubes, cereal or cake mix boxes, books, cans, dominoes, funnels, marbles, golf balls, string, buckets, cups or bowls, batteries, and magnets.

3. Sketch It Out

Prior to building your machine, start sketching it out once you’ve determined your task and gathered your materials. This will assist your child in making the right material choices, spotting any gaps, and putting together a functional mechanism.

Final Words

Rube Goldberg machine competitions are still held today. The National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest was established at Purdue University in 1987 by the Phi Chapter of Theta Tau, a national engineering fraternity.

In order to create the most complex, inventive machines, teams compete every year. How intricate do they become? Using a device that turned on a flashlight, for instance, a Purdue University team once won the competition. A toy rocket, a fake meteor, and a mock fire were all used in the 125-step procedure!

Have you ever constructed a Rube Goldberg device? What easy task could you accomplish using a difficult process, would you like to? You might design the following innovation that wins an award!