Rube Goldberg Machines in Physics

by Christine Vadovszki

Skyline High School students created Rube Goldberg Machines in this year’s physics courses. This project was made possible by a Race To The Top grant from the Department of Education.  The goal of the project was to allow students to creatively analyze conservation of energy. The project challenged students to apply their understanding of physics concepts to create a multi-step machine with a chosen purpose. From ultimately popping a balloon, blowing out a candle, or turning on a toy car, the Rube Goldberg Machines designed by students varied in both size and complexity.

Students began the project by brainstorming in groups what they wanted their device to look like. Projects needed to include at least 5 energy transmissions with a minimum of 3 different types of energies being utilized.


Once the Rube Goldberg Machines were built and functioning, students were required to film their projects in action, and finally write a lab report to reflect on their work.

Most of the Rube Goldberg Machines were completed and filmed in the classroom with supplies in the room or brought in recyclables. Some students opted to film at home due to a more complex set-up. In the linked video, students JayJay Salomon, Raziel Nunez, Joel Jimenez and Marco Rodriguez present the video of their project. Most simply, stated by Jose Segovia at the end of his lab write-up for this project, “Overall energy rules about everything in this world.”