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Q3: Rube Goldberg

Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg (July 4, 1883 - December 7, 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor. He is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. These devices are now known as Rube Goldberg machines.

This competition is a sort of pre-game warm up for the 4th quarter Roller Coaster Project at ISU. Your team can consist of no more than six members. Below are the engineering parameters:

Criteria and Constraints:

  • Must have at least 10 distinct steps.
  • Must be longer than 20 seconds.
  • Machine can be of any size.
  • The end product will simply be a video of your machine in the order mentioned below.
  • The 1st part of the video will quickly state the simple task that will be accomplished.
  • The 2nd part of the video will show a "continuous - no video splicing" successful run of the machine. You can run this at a slower speed if you choose.
  • The 3rd part of the video will be a simple walk through of your machine with all group members participating and explaining what each step does and the brief physics behind it. (ex. "This step uses rotational motion"). Your group should define each step and a different group member can explain each step. 
  • If you are videoing with your cellphone turn it in the horizontal position. 

Videos need to be appropriate for young audiences and should not violate copyright laws for YouTube or your instructor will have to edit or delete portions of your video. (which correlates with deleting portions of your grade!) Please upload to YouTube and send me the link or bring me the video on a flash drive.

Pancake Flipper

Ideas to consider:

  • How creative and complicated can you make each step?
  • Do you have more steps than just the minimum 10?
  • How creative or complicated is the task that your machine performs?
  • How creative is your video?
  • Can you create a side-by-side video of a successful run from two different camera angles?
  • How steady are your video taking skills?

In 2010 the rock band, OK Go! set their new song, This Too Shall Pass to a Rube Goldberg Machine. I'm not expecting anything this amazing but it might give you some ideas.

Here is another video of a 2-minute Rube Goldberg machine. It is a real page turner!