My Rube Goldberg
By Carolyne Kellner, January 1, 2007
- Elementary School
- Graphic Design
- Language Arts
Students will appreciate the imaginative and inventive genius of Rube Goldberg, as well as further their understanding of simple concepts in physics.
A1) Communicate scientific procedures and explanations
B) Physical Science:
B2) Motion and Forces
E): Science and Technology E
1) Abilities of technological design
E2) Understanding about science and technology
Standard 3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas
Standard 5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Standard 6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
4. Students adjust their use of spoke, write, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, and vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to with different audiences for a variety of proposes.
- familiarize themselves with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine
- understand how design and invention can be combined to solve problems
- create a drawing of a Rube Goldberg-type machine or invention with the necessary steps (at least seven) to use the machine written underneath
- find multiple solutions for the same problem
- use simple physics concepts to create their invention
The images from this website should be used as examples for the class.
- white paper
- thin black markers for final draft
2. As a class, discuss step-by-step the wildly imaginative work of artist Rube Goldberg.
3. Explain to the students that design solves a problem, as exhibited in the cartoons.
4. Tell the class that they will be creating a design to solve a simple task.
5. Pass out copies of Rube Goldberg cartoons to the students for inspiration.
6. As a class, brainstorm possible ideas for inventions, for example, "How to Stop a Baby from Crying," "Homework Machine," "How to put a Scoop of Ice Cream on a Cone," and hold a discussion about possible ideas.
7. Pass out paper and pencils to the students so that they can begin their designs. Remind the students that their inventions should have at least seven steps.
8. Once they have created their design, students should write out the steps necessary to make the invention work beneath their image.
9. Encourage students to make as many drafts as necessary.
10. Each student should present the final draft of their design to the class.
- Student can talk about the inventions and designs created by Rube Goldberg.
- Student can explain their invention and the process they took to create it.
- Student used at least 7 steps to make their invention work and those steps are included in their drawing.
- Student can explain the steps and the process needed to use the invention.
Enrichment Extension Activities
Students can research how Rube Goldberg has influenced game design, cartoons, and animation, and provide examples.
Students can further their understanding of the concepts of motion and animation by creating flip books.
This project was extremely successful on two points: students designed a solution to a problem following specific criteria with overwhelming success, and secondly, they wrote about the sequential steps of their design well. This was an important literacy component. We posted all of the designs, with the criteria, and the class’s brainstorm list (including titles like "How to Put your Baby Brother/Sister to Sleep," "Homework Machine," "How to put a Scoop of Ice Cream on a Cone," "How to Make your Baby Sister/Brother Stop Crying") around the classroom.