Rube Goldberg Experiment

In this experiment we were to construct a Rube Goldberg experiment that can efficiently turn on a TI-83 calculator. The project must have 10 or more steps in which energy was transferred. The entire machine was to fit inside an 18" by 18" by 18" square and must also take longer than 30 seconds. The task proved to be far more difficult than it seems although in the end it turned out successful.

When first designing our Rube Goldberg machine, we brainstormed ideas and sketched a plan. Next, we constructed a diagram explaining the physics and energy transfers that occur throughout the process. We also created a cartoon to show the process of the machine. After the sketches and diagrams were completed we began building our machine. After testing each step carefully and running the machine to check for efficiency, we concluded that it was completed.

  1. A marble is released and falls down three diagonal tubes.
  2. The marble hits a piece of wood, which moves, hitting a car down a ramp.
  3. The car slides down the ramp, falls onto another ramp, and hits a marble.
  4. The marble falls down a tube, and hits dominoes at the end.
  5. The dominoes fall, and reach another set of dominoes going up a set of stairs.
  6. The second set of dominoes fall, and hit a marble.
  7. That marble hits a heavier ball.
  8. The heavy ball is rolled off the edge of the platform and falls into a cup.
  9. The weight of the marble in the cup causes the piece of wood that the cup is resting on to move upward, hitting another piece of wood.
  10. That piece of wood hits a ramp, starting two other marbles down the ramp.
  11. The marbles slide down tubes and hit a peice of wood at the bottom.
  12. The Wood then moves forwarded, releasing a battery into a funnel.
  13. The funnel, attached by rubber bands, bounces downward, and a stick attached to the bottom of the funnel then hits the power button of the calculator.

First Draft
Final Draft



(We apologize that the text of the diagram is so small. Wikispaces wouldn't allow us to post the larger version of the diagram)

The machine worked through transfers of energy, starting with a marble. A few problems that occurred during the process of our machine included the battery being released when the car fell to the second ramp, and marbles falling before planned. Most other aspects of the machine worked well. The machine could be modified to be more sturdy to assure efficiency.

Building this machine helped us to learn somewhat about engineering and the importance of physics in engineering. It also helped us to understand the importance of efficiency. Each step in the machine only worked if the step before that worked correctly. Patience was another important thing we obtained after having to test the machine multiple times before it finally worked correctly.

*For more examples of Rube Goldberg experiments check out // and type in "Rube Goldberg".
*For further information about Rube Goldberg check out