Freshmen Build Rube Goldberg Machine in Physics

Mr. Chip Strickland’s freshmen physics class recently applied their knowledge of motion and the laws of nature to build very intricate machines known as Rube Goldberg machines.

“A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complex contraption that involves many chain reactions that accomplish a simple task, such as rolling a ball down a ramp to knock down dominoes which then knock down another item that pulls a lever,” explained Strickland, who first started assigning these projects three years ago.

The students worked together in different groups to build their machines. Each machine built had to connect with the next group’s, which took a lot of time, error, and frustration.

“To start off, the students spent a week planning their ideas and putting them down on blueprints. They had to present their proposals, and their proposals had to be practical and have an end reaction. After they did this, they had to assemble and test their machines,” stated Strickland.

The students had to provide their own supplies, and each student had to contribute to the group.

“My group was the first group to go, so it was pretty nerve-racking. Connecting all of them was really difficult and extremely frustrating,” explained student Amanda Roy. “We used books, bouncy balls, and tubes to make our machine. We just used what we could find around the classroom and things that weren’t hard to find. In the end our reaction was unsuccessful, though.”

“We always have a lot of fun making the machines. It can be frustrating for students, but for students who complete their reactions, there is a lot of satisfaction from seeing their hard work pay off,” said Strickland.