Maker Faire Project: Rube Goldberg Machine
By: Luke, Diego, and Jackson
Have you ever wanted your life to be more complicated? Have you ever wanted to take the long way around? Well read on to find out how a group of students from the school Black Pine Circle accomplished this by making their very own Rube Goldberg Machine!
First of all, in the words of a wonderful website called Wikipedia, “A Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence.” In simpler words, it is just a (usually) huge, awesome, series of chain reactions!
We built our machine to try to make slicing a piece of bread as complex as possible. Sadly, due to time constraints and safety reasons, we decided it would probably be more simple to just make a Rube Goldberg Machine with no set ending, just adding on to it as much as we can. This provided multiple benefits. First of all, since we only had about a week to make our machine, we could just work on it as much as we could, and end it where ever we needed to. Second of all, we realized that making a complex machine out of cardboard and duct tape to slice a piece of bread is much more challenging than we had previously thought.
We really only had two constraints. One of them was time, which we foresaw, and accounted for, but the second, which was the weather, we didn’t. On the day of the Maker Faire, the sky was gray, and looked like a water balloon about to burst. Luckily, the sky was a very thick water balloon, and not a drop escaped. But the weather on the other hand, resembled a wind tunnel. This was not very good setting for a project which included multiple parts that were precariously balanced. Time after time, we would set up our machine, and time after time, the wind would blow it down. And sadly, the few times the whole machine did get set up, one little step would malfunction, and the magnificent chain reaction would grind to a painful halt. After much struggle, we decided we would set up a folding table set on it’s side, as a wind blocker. With five minutes left of the Maker Faire, none of us were feeling very optimistic. We decided to throw all doubts to the wind, and give it one last try. Surprisingly, to all of our delighted amazement, it worked!
Our brainstorming process was much less exciting, as is to be expected. But just for you, I will make it as exciting as possible. Our group started by all coming up with ten ideas we would want to do for our Maker Faire project. After much intellectual conversing, the original thirty ideas were whittled down to a three. The final three ideas trembled with anticipation, hoping with all their hearts to be chosen. After even more intellectual conversation, and some compromise, one lucky idea was chosen.
After the decision was made, we started prototyping our idea. We decided to make every piece as independent and simple as possible for easy transportation and setup. We then built the first step of our project. We used many top of the line materials, including hot glue, used pinboard, duct tape, used P. V. C. pipes and cardboard. After assembling the first part of our project, one surprising problem we had was storing it in a place where it wouldn’t be broken. We first stored it propped up against a table in a back room where we thought there wouldn’t be much foot traffic. We were wrong. Upon returning to the creation of our project, we realized that over the span of one day, one of our P. V. C. pipes and one of our rulers had been knocked off of our project! From then on we decided to store our project on the top of a shelf.Our theoretical next step would be to make a new machine with more planning and time. We would also come up with more ideas and could potentially use school restricted materials like sharp edges and fire.
If you want to make your own Rube Goldberg Machine, you can't really mess up. But planning it out before can be very helpful. For us, watching videos of Rube Goldberg Machines other people had made was very valuable as it gave us many ideas for the creation of our own.
Overall, creating our Rube Goldberg Machine, and the process of creating it offered a great learning experience for our group. We learned many things including: sometimes making a specific end goal of your project can be better because it generates more motivation to work on the project, finding time out of school to work on your project can be very challenging, looking at every last detail of your project and setup of your project can be very helpful; it might let you foresee preventable problems like the weather, storing your project on top of a shelf can be very beneficial to the well being of your project, and finally, having your life less complex, and taking the short way around things can make your life much more enjoyable, unless you are making a Rube Goldberg Machine.
Our machine cost approximately $6.33. All we had to buy was 1' ball bearings, because a marble wasn't heavy enough to knock over a piece of wood.
You can see our project running successfully right here:
Here is some background information on Rube Goldberg Machines
This is a picture of our group looking dejected after a failed attempt.