How to plan, design and run a Rube Goldberg engineering event at your school or organization

Goldberg Cover Photo

This will be a four-part post providing guidance on how to plan, design and run a Rube Goldberg engineering event for your school or organization. First I want to begin by explaining what the heck a Rube Goldberg engineering event is and why you would want to host one at your school.

So, who is Rube Goldberg? Before I talk about the Rube Goldberg event, let’s learn a little bit about the event’s namesake. Rube Goldberg was a household name during the 1940s, 50s and 60s for the over 50,000 cartoons that he created during this lifetime. Goldberg used his engineering background and his fascination with the advancement of technology to humorously make cartoons of machines that make easy tasks difficult. He is most famous for his zany series of simple machine inventions that he depicted in his cartoons. Check out this example of one of Rube Goldberg’s cartoons on the official Rube Goldberg website.

What is a Rube Goldberg Event? These crazy simple machine, cartoon inventions that were drawn by Rube Goldberg gave birth to the idea of facilitating Rube Goldberg contests in schools that allowed children of all ages to “connect” a series of simple machines into a complex machine that completed a modest task.  Check out this video to see a simple example of what I mean.

Does this sound interesting to you? I hope so. Please stay tuned for my next three posts that will cover (1) how to plan for a Rube Goldberg event, (2) examples of the types of lessons you can offer to teach students about simple machines, and (3) some steps in creating the Rube Goldberg Event where students show off their inventions.

Example Goldberg Machine

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