Look! Rube Goldberg Machine

Look! Rube Goldberg Machine

Alejandra Valera
Jun 11, 2008

When it's either too hot or wet to go outside you begin to become very creative with what you do inside. You can only do so many arts and crafts, after all. This weekend, we made our first attempt at creating our very own Rube Goldberg Machine -- or simple ball contraption.

The basic definition of a Rube Goldberg Machine is a machine which performs a simple task in a complex way. Even if you've never heard of the name, you've seen the machines. Cogs, wheels, dominoes, marbles all work together in a complicated fashion to press a button, turn a page in a book, pour water into a cup. (The entire concept of the game Mouse Trap is based on the Rube Goldberg Machine.)

Every year colleges and schools all around the world hold various Rube Goldberg competitions. Some of the creations are truly awe-inspiring. Ours...not so much. Still, our son really enjoyed the process and seeing how cause and effect, and chain reactions work.

For our contraption, we had a bouncy ball (later, we figured out a marble works way better) go down two ramps, into a tunnel, which then pushed a car that knocked down some dominoes pushing two balls down a ramp, knocking down more dominoes that pushed another car -- all for the end result of placing a pompom into a cup. It sounds easy, but the set up was long and had to be precise.

Not bad for a day spent inside...

Here is a clip of a 6 minute-long, great Japanese Rube Goldberg machine:

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