Rube Goldberg Machine

Who is Rube Goldberg?

Born in San Francisco, Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970) graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in engineering. He later entered journalism and moved to New York, where he became a syndicated cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. (New York Times, 2014).

Goldberg is best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.

What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?

A Rube Goldberg machine, named after Rube Goldberg, is a chain reaction-type machine or contraption intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and (impractically) overly complicated way. Usually, these machines consist of a series of simple unrelated devices; the action of each triggers the initiation of the next, eventually resulting in achieving a stated goal.

Some of Goldberg's Famous Work

"Peace Today"

Goldberg won a Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning with this very serious drawing of an atomic bomb on a precipice, which appeared in the New York Sun on July 22, 1947. But it was his comics of inefficent inventions that made him a household name.

"Self-Operating Napkin"

As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it pulls string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I) which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off sky-rocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your chin.

After the meal, substitute a harmonica for the napkin and you'll be able to entertain the guests with a little music.

Rube Goldberg in Pop Culture

Mouse Trap

Mouse Trap (originally Mouse Trap Game) is a board game first published by Ideal in 1963 for two to four players. It is one of the first mass-produced three-dimensional board games.[1] Players at first cooperate to build a working mouse trap in the style of a Rube Goldberg machine. Then, players turn against each other to trap opponents' mouse-shaped game pieces.

The rock band "OK Go" designed a complex Rube Goldberg Machine for their official video for the recorded version of "This Too Shall Pass" off the album "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky". The video was filmed in a two story warehouse, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The "machine" was designed and built by the band, along with members of Syyn Labs over the course of several months. There is an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the warehouse here.

How does this relate to chemistry?

Conservation of Energy

In physics and chemistry, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant; it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another.

For instance, chemical energy is converted to kinetic energy when a stick of dynamite explodes.

Energy Transformations

Although the purpose of a Rube Goldberg Machine is to carry out a task, for our purposes we are trying to demonstrate energy transformation. Some examples of energy transformation include electrical energy (Electrical outlet) to sound and light (TV) or electrical to thermal (toaster to heat).

MY OC (17 pts)

Now it's your turn. Design and create a Rube Goldberg Machine that demonstrates energy transformations. Once completed, upload a video of your machine in action!

Rube Goldberg Machine Rubric

rgm rubric

Design Constraints (12 pts)

a. The initial step activates your machine. After release the device must operate without assistance.

b. It must use at least ONE different energy transitions (TWO or more for extra credit)

c. It must contain at least 2-4 unique simple machines.

d. It must contain 3-5 different steps.

e. You must be able to name and describe all steps/energy transformations in your machine. I want you to record and upload the entirety of your machine to the quick write (as a link).

Video Embed and explanation (5 pts)

You and your group should be recording each of your trials. As a group, select the best video that demonstrates your entire machine and upload it to your website.

In addition, describe all steps/energy transformations in your machine in paragraph form.