Build Your Own STEM Adventure – Rube Goldberg machines

Ideas for integrated STEM projects that align to the ACARA science understandings.


Rube Goldberg Machines

ACARA Science Alignment: Physical Sciences- Energy appears in different forms, including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and energy transformations and transfers cause change within systems (ACSSU155 – Scootle )

Suggested Year Level: Year 8

Project: Students work in groups to design, construct, and test complex machines of multiple (at least 7) steps that perform a simple task (e.g. pop a balloon), using the engineering design model. They identify and use at least 3 forms of energy (e.g. kinetic, gravitational potential, sound) and identify each energy changes (transfer or transformation) that make the machine work.


Hook: Watch the film clip to OK Go’s song, ‘This too shall pass’ for a giant Rube Goldberg machine (

STEM links: boost the connections with different disciplines by

· Maths – have students record the time of the machine at each stage/step and the distance and calculate the speed of movement of each step.

· Science – have students plan for and identify within their machine multiple forms of energy and energy changes.

· Engineering – have students construct the machine using everyday materials found around the school and home

· Technology – have students use technology to measure speed (timers, sensor gates) and film/document the process of building and/or performance of the final working machine (cameras, phone, editing software)

· Music/Media – have students film the performance of the final working machine and create music to accompany recording.

Get Inspired

We’d love to hear from you if you use Rube Goldberg machines in your class, or if you have other ideas or feedback on how to use this Build Your Own STEM Adventure. Good luck!

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