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The Woods Academy

Where curiosity and confidence thrive.
Who was Rube Goldberg and What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?
Mrs. Mullally, 5th & 6th Grade Science Teacher

Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor.  He is known for his cartoons depicting tasks being completed in the silliest and most elaborate ways.  His name can now be found as an adjective in the dictionary meaning “ingeniously or unnecessarily complicated in design or construction.”

This winter the 6th graders have been learning about energy, simple machines, and motion through a variety of experiments, projects, readings, and interactive online activities.  To learn about potential and kinetic energy, students built amusement park rides, such as the Twist-o-Matic and Bumper Coaster.


They also used the virtual world of Minecraft to create more elaborate roller coasters and test out a variety of simple machines.

Creating roller coasters (inclined planes) with multiple hills

Building screws and using wedges in Minecraft to make work easier

As they learned about energy, students also explored energy transfers by creating chain reactions using simple machines such as a lever, inclined plane, and wheel & axle. 



With more practice and time, students were able to expand on their knowledge of energy, simple machines, and motion and apply their newfound knowledge to creating 4-step Rube Goldberg machines!




Before tackling the final project for the unit, a larger Rube Goldberg machine, the 6th-grade students had the special opportunity to speak with Jennifer George, Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter! This was a chance for the students to learn more about Rube Goldberg and his many cartoon machines, as well as the inspiration for his creative ideas, before jumping into their final builds.


Check out the 6th Grader’s Rube Goldberg machines on Vidigami.  Can you make a Rube Goldberg machine?