Rube Goldberg Project: Last Minute Problems

From the start, when my teacher first announced that we would do this project, I’d had a problem. My schedule was so packed, that I wondered if I’d ever be able to work on my project.

Due to this unfortunate dilemma, I was only able to work on this project on the weekends. And there were only about 4 weekends in which I could work on this project. That was my first problem. My second was that I had a baby brother who destroyed my project twice. And third, was that I needed materials, which I could not easily find anywhere.

I had a whole list of problems that kept on going. Luckily, every problem was solved, some of them not as simply as others. But they were all solved, and soon, my list of problems got very short.

By January 19, I was almost done with my project. The best part was, I had till February 8th to turn it in! That was 20 days, or roughly 3 weeks. All I had to so now, was videotape the project. I didn’t realize how hard that would be till I actually started.

One of my most complicated steps occurs when Jenga pieces knock into a ball which then knocks into a wheel. That wheel is supposed to go under a chair and yank a Jenga piece off from on top of the chair and, as a result, let a marble travel down a path. But the wheel didn’t move enough when knocked into. So the Jenga piece didn’t budge. This was very frustrated. Finally, after a whole weekend passed, I found a solution. This solution came when I mounted the wheel on top of a small block so it could go down a ramp and gain more speed. But even after that, while recording, the wheel didn’t go down the ramp, or the ramp blocked the ball from knocking into the wheel. Once I found the solution to this, which was getting a different ramp that was a bit flatter, I realized the importance of having a plan to look at. Even after this, about 2 days later. I scrapped this whole step and replaced it with a sea saw, I still wished I had a plan too look at. Because by then, I definitely wasted that I hadn’t spent so much time worrying on this.

Many other last minute problems popped up. The one above was definitely more complicated, but the others were challenging nevertheless. Yet I found out that every time a problem came up, I found a quick solution to it if I just focused. My whole experience when making last minute edits taught me that you have to look over a machine a lot. Twice or three times at a minimum. Because otherwise, you won’t be prepared to start the next step. And there’s never a point to do anything in life if you aren’t prepared for it.

This photo shows the step with the wheel that I was having a problem with. This is step one, where nothing has changed.

This is step two, where I have added a ramp

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This is step three. It is a video. In this, I drop the ball onto the sea saw too show what will happen. My goal is for the ball to fall on the sea saw and yank the string. To work this, first press the link. Only do it once or the video will download too many times. The video will automatically download onto your computer. Click on it and watch it. Then, go too chrome://downloads to delete the video.




Rube Goldberg Project: Safety Videos

Many times when I made the Rube Goldberg project, I felt nervous that I would fail. One time, I got so nervous, I just wasn’t able to work. Looking back, I don’t know why I was scared. I mean, I was doing pretty well when it came to my progress rate. But I guess that just happens when you only work on a machine in your own time.

My sister once suggested an awesome idea. She told me to make a safety video. This would consist of a Rube Goldberg machine that was pretty lame. It had about 9-10 steps which I stretched out to make them look like they were elaborate. It would reach the ‘okay’ standards, but nothing more.

At first I ignored this. I was pretty confident. But once I started getting stressed out, I listened.

Quickly, I used the steps which I had made. My sister and I jazzed them up a notch and then we added a chess piece at the end of the machine. And believe it or not, the machine functioned properly after a few tries.

Even now though, when my machine was so simple, there where a lot of problems. The biggest one was having to line stuff up. I had a marble which dropped through a tunnel. But, if not lined up, the marble stopped when the tunnel finished. My solution to that, was marking. I made a black line where everything was to go so I wouldn’t forget.

My sister jazzed up the video, while I worked on another blueprint which showed the changes to the machine which we had made. The idea which my sister had proposed worked great. The one problem that came with it was that I started to get a little lazier when it came too the project after that. This problem was solved later, after I noticed that I was falling behind.

I turned the blueprint in the next day, knowing that I probably would not use it. But, if worse came to worse, at least I had a good video.

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This is my safety video. Due to technicalities, the video downloads when you press this link. Once it downloads, just click the part where the video is shown, and then it will play. After that, you may delete it by seeing all the downloads (chrome://downloads) and pressing the ‘x.’ Remember not too click the link too many times, or it will download too much.

This is my blueprint which I made that supports my video.


Rube Goldberg post: Revising and Edits

Any time you do something, whether it’s a book or a machine, you always have to edit it. Otherwise it’s not going to reach the level of capability that it was made for.

Because of this, I made sure to edit my Rube Goldberg machine. I had about 11 steps. But for some reason I just wasn’t that glad with what I had. It was extremely simple. Nothing like a proper Rube Goldberg machine.

I had only used two of six simple machines, and hadn’t even completed my goal of using 4. It didn’t feel good at all, even though I had completed a task. Also, my machine was just too fragile. My baby brother constantly came too my work space and bulldozed it.

I reboarded my train of thought. What could I change? What did I not like? What could be made more complicated? It didn’t come too me immediately. I had too sit and think for  while.

First I changed the ending. Instead of a ball barreling into a chess pace, I made it go down a ginormous tunnel. Then I made a line of dominoes which it would crash into.

For about an hour and a half I was pondering about a bunch of different steps. When I finished, my Rube Goldberg project looked like it was finally going somewhere great. It was actually starting to look like a big, complicated, over engineered machine. I’d had to redo the whole machine, but it was worth it.

This incident taught me the importance of planning ahead and sometimes just stopping to think. Now, if I come across a problem, I know what to do or how to find a solution if I’m stuck. After a little bit of thinking, I was able to come up with a solution and many more. This was an important experience for me that really helped with my success rates during this project.


The link above shows what my Rube Goldberg machine looked like right before this stage happened. This link above downloads my video to your screen. It will take about 3-5 seconds. The download will appear at the bottom of your screen. Click it, and it will play for you. After that, go too downloads, (chrome:downloads) and it will delete it you press the “x” on it.


The video below is something that helped me when I was brainstorming different ways to make my project have more steps.

Rube Goldberg Project: Failures and Success

Building a project is often the most exciting part of it. This is where you go through your main stages of failures and success. I, having built a project that failed, had already went through this phase. But now, using my new structure, I had a lot more fun. First off, my sister was helping me so that provided company. And also, I had learned from my mistakes. Now when I was at a stand still, I always referred back to my old machine and asked myself three questions. How will this step be triggered to start? How will this trigger something in the end? And, most importantly, how might this step fail? If I had properly answered the first 2 questions, which often came very easily, I then listed the possibilities of how this step may not work. I sat and thought about each possibility carefully, because if some of the possibilities seemed likely to happen, then this might not be the most stable step. Of course, there were always some possibilities of why a step wouldn’t work. That’s what made building it fun.

If I had decided to not incorporate a step into my project, I wouldn’t just dismiss it that quickly. I would then try to modify the step so it could work. This insured that all of my ideas were not wasted.

But when building, I tried to always use a variety of steps. For my project to succeed, I needed 8 or more steps, none of them repeating. But I had also set a goal for myself. While building, I wanted to use at least 4-5 simple machines and clearly show them in my project.

Building this Rube Goldberg machine was far from easy. But I worked in stages, or different levels, to help sort my ideas. Each stage was connected, somehow, many times with a block or a ball. I planned to use 5 stages, the last one finishing my project.

While building, I noticed a lot of things in my project. I noticed that the size and weight of a ball mattered immensely while building. Also, I learned to be precise. I marked some of the blocks I used to insure that things would be exact and perfect.

One of the my hardest times came when I had just started to build. I just did not know where too start! I tried building different parts of my machine, but when one step failed, I got panicky, and a bit worried. I didn’t have a steady beginning, middle and end. That wasn’t good. One day, I sat down next too my project. I stopped with the nonsense which I had started for the last few days. I took a deep breath. And properly tried out the first step. None of the steps worked at first, so I did get a little nervous at times. But for the most part, after that, as long as I had something planned to do that day I did it.

My biggest worry in this whole project was my baby brother. I was building downstairs, in the basement, somewhere he had free access too. And while I was at school, I could not keep him out. Also, I had taken his favorite toy for the first step of my project. And I bunch of his books to prop things up. Once my brother came down and stole two of the best balls I had. One of them started my machine. He lost that ball, but gave me the other back. I searched for a good time, but could not find the ball. And no ball worked as its replacement. I tried a lot of things. Finally, I found the ball. Right under my own pillow, like a gift from the tooth fairy! That’s where it was the whole time. This taught me to be a lot more careful about my things and to keep careful watch of my little brother.

I felt the most proud of myself when I had finished a step in which a wheel would be knocked into by a ball. The wheel would then yank off a domino from a higher surface an let a marble roll free. This was a very complicated step. I had to mark a bunch of things and try out a ton of examples. Once I finished, I was extremely proud. Later, my baby brother took the wheel, broke it, and then gave it back. After that, I had to restart the whole step, which I ran into more problems with later.

One of my biggest stand stills was when I completed the second stage. But, ironically, this also lead to my best moments while building the whole machine. The second stage used a seesaw to bring a ball to the ground. But once the ball was on the ground, I was stuck. The ball could not go up, nor could it travel on a flat surface for a long distance. I was stuck for a week. Finally, I devised a plan involving a spool. But where could I find one. I searched the whole house. Nothing. I looked at school. Nothing. Finally, after about 3 days of search, I borrowed a spool from my friend. After that, I was able to complete 2 more stages. And it was all a breeze. Ideas just kept on coming. All because of one failure, that led to my greatest success.

Rube Goldberg Project: Devising Plans

This down below is my first blueprint. It consists of 14 steps and has a key located at the side.

Many times I hear the phrase “Without a good plan, you won’t have a good machine.” A plan is often described as the foundation of a contraption, and without a sturdy base, a building could never hold up.

From the moment my teacher announced that we would start our Rube Goldberg projects, I had already started creating a plan. A Rube Goldberg machine is a device created with different cause effect motions that has a goal to achieve a simple task. My plan started with small, but important things such as whether or not I wanted to work in a group. I decided to work solo when that came to mind. By the time my teacher finished talking, I had already devised some basic plans.

One of our requirements in our Rube Goldberg assignment was to turn in an accurate plan that showed the complexity of the gadget you were planning to build. When I started working on the one I would turn into my teacher, I started by working backwards. Since my machine would achieve the task of moving a chess piece on a board, I began by thinking about how my device would achieve that task. Once I had that idea, I watched a couple of the videos that my teacher suggested. I jotted about a couple of the parts in the video which stood out to me, and then switched them up a little so I wouldn’t be copying.

After I had a good amount of steps, I made a distinctive order and added a few of my own steps. I showed it to my family who offered a couple of suggestions. But in a little while, I had something which I thought was a nice start. I made a couple of pictures to show important steps in my contraption, and then it was perfect. I thought that this was a relatively great plan and as stated by Earl Nightingale, “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”


This video helped me gather ideas for steps that I could incorporate into my machine. It also gave me a good idea of what a finished Rube Goldberg project looked like.




Rube Goldberg Project: Thinking of an Idea

When my teacher announced that our next assignment would be to design a Rube Goldberg machine, I was exhilarated. A Rube Goldberg project is an apparatus made up of complicated, chain reaction steps that had an objective to complete a simple task, such as sharpening a pencil. This was one of the few projects where we could choose our own partners. I thought that many people wanted to work in pairs, but I enjoy working by myself for a couple of reasons. First, I could work on my own time. Second, I could use my own ideas. And third, sometimes people don’t do an equal amount of work when in a group or they easily get distracted. So I decided that working solo might be a little more useful during this project.

For me, the hardest step of any project is thinking of the idea. It’s always the first step and you can’t do anything unless you have a strong beginning. What I started with was brainstorming. I thought for about an hour about different blueprints and searched up ideas that others had too for inspiration. Finally I got about twenty. After that, I started eliminating projects that were too complicated, too basic, or too accessible. Soon the twenty ideas became three, all of which I had thought of on my own. And, two projects I ruled out almost immediately. That left me with an idea. I wanted to move a chess piece for my Rube Goldberg project. This would be appealing, unique assignment and a challenge that I was ready to take on.




This site helped me understand what a Rube Goldberg contraption was.