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Home /  Courses And Programs / Middle School: Rube Goldberg - Engineering Gone Amuck

We’ve all seen the crazy chain-reaction contraptions called Rube Goldberg machines. Explore the creative side of engineering by designing and building your own Rube Goldberg devices.


We will start with a broad look at the principles of mechanics and design and go over measurement and hand-tool use. Then, students will design and build interactive machines where a simple push starts a chain reaction of pulleys, dominoes and so much more. As the week progresses, our designs will become more complex, culminating in a grand finale chain reaction on the last day. Ultimately, we will see how these devices, which waste time and energy to accomplish simple tasks, can be a vehicle for engineering ingenuity and artistic expression.

What You Will Learn


Students in Middle School: Rube Goldberg Engineering will:

  • Receive safety instruction
  • Learn the basics of mechanics and thermodynamics
  • Gain an understanding of what a chain reaction is and why we want to learn about this concept
  • Design and experiment with mechanisms for transferring energy from one place to another
  • Learn about hypothesis testing and the scientific method
  • Take a historical look at failure and examine how failure has led to success
  • Design, build and test a variety of Rube Goldberg machines
Return to the Sally Ride Science website here. 

Course Number: ENG-90032
Credit: 1.50 unit(s)