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In response to COVID-19 health guidelines, we have restructured most of our in-person Junior Academy workshops as online courses. This in-person workshop has been canceled and will not be offered as an online course. Please see our available online courses to find other topics that may interest you. If you have registered for this course, you will receive a refund. Contact us at if you have questions.

Design and Build a Rube Goldberg Machine


We’ve all seen the crazy chain-reaction contraptions called Rube Goldberg machines, named for the cartoonist who originated them as a parody of modern life. Now you can explore the creative side of engineering by designing and building your own Rube Goldberg devices.

We will start with a broad look at the principles of mechanics and design and also go over measurement and hand-tool use. Then, working in teams, students will design and build interactive machines where a simple push starts a chain reaction of pulleys, dominoes and so much more. As the week progresses, our designs will become more complex, culminating in a grand finale chain reaction on the last day. Ultimately we will see how these devices, which waste time and energy to accomplish simple tasks, can be a vehicle for engineering ingenuity and artistic expression.

What You Will Learn

  • Receive safety instruction
  • Learn basics of mechanics and thermodynamics
  • Gain an understanding of what a chain reaction is and why we want to learn about this concept
  • Design and experiment with mechanisms for transferring energy from one place to another
  • Learn about hypothesis testing and the scientific method
  • Take a historical look at failure and examine how failure has led to success
  • Design, build and test a variety of Rube Goldberg machines

Return to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy website here.

Course Number: WKSP-90038
Credit: 0.00 unit(s)