Physics and Astronomy



Rube Goldberg Competition
Objective To carry out a simple task in the most complicated way possible. E.G.:
  • Have the marble roll from the table into the cup on the floor.
  • Have a pendulum hit a gong.
  • Have Prince Charming rescue Princess Prudence from the Tall Tower.
  • Purpose To demonstrate scientific skills, creativity, teamwork, and have a funtastic time.
    Participants Teams of three to six.
    Materials The following items are all stored in a zip-loc bag, one for each team. Supplies are bought at the local bargain store, and nothing costs more than $2:00
    Balloons 3 Marbles - small 4
    Car - model 1 Masking tape ½ inch 1
    Clothes pins 6 Playing cards 1 deck
    Dominos 1 set Popsicle sticks 12
    Drinking cups 3 Scissors 1 pair
    Drinking straws 12 String 2.0 m
    Marbles - big 2 Tennis ball 1
    Additional Items - Add any other items that are available locally
    Bristol Board 2 sheets Rulers 2m 1
    Glue gun (older students only) 1 Ramps 1
    2 Stands 1
    Rules Define a time limit for the event. We find that half an hour is reasonable, but be ready to be flexible.
    Judging Assign points for each different event in the Rube Goldberg Machine.
    If a part of the machine fails, the team can restart it once without penalty.
    If subsequent restarts are required, one point is lost per restart.
    Notes We have run this event at elementary schools, high schools, and at teacher's workshops, with great success at all levels. It was particularly neat when the high school students did the event first, and then ran it at one of their elementary feeder schools for the grade five students. Details of a large scale event can be found at the web site http://www.physics.uwo.ca/sfair/scienceo.htm. Here, you will find a short account of Rube Goldberg, together with the rules for a high level competition. At the small scale events, we don't make the judging too formal.
    Source London District Science Olympics

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