Multimedia product for projects Keely Cox

Purpose:  The purpose of the project is to build a Rube Goldberg machine as a class to accomplish a simple task.  This year’s task was to light a candle.  Each student in class is responsible for a section.  Each section must interact with the section on either side i.e., section 1 must trigger section 2 and section 2 must trigger section 3, etc.

Link to find out what a Rube Goldberg machine is:

Apparatus:  Simple machines are combined into an arrangement for each section to interact together to accomplish the task of lighting a candle.  

There are six simple machines that combine to make complex machines:

All simple machine photos are courtesy of

Lever:  A straight bar or board that pivots on a fulcrum to move a load when a force is applied.

Inclined plane:  Any slanted surface that serves to move a load from a lower to higher surface.


Wheel and axle:  A Wheel that turns around a center post.

Screw:  An inclined plane that wraps around a center post.


Wedge:  Two inclined planes together to create a shape that is very narrow at one end and wide at the other. Used to separate two objects or stop an object from moving.


Pulley:  A wheel and a rope combined.  The rope sits in a groove on the outside of the wheel.  Used to lift things.

The first section of the Rube Goldberg contains the following simple machines:

2 levers

1 pulley

1 screw

2 inclined planes



The troubleshooting included adjusting the angle of the book and the distance between the dominoes.

Adjusting the pail to make sure the location of the pail allowed the domino to fall into the pail, and making sure that the pail moved with the weight of the domino.

Adjusting the string in the pulley to make sure that the string would move the lever when the string is moved by the mass of the bucket.

Finding the proper length of the flap/stopper to allow the marble to be released into the top of the screw once the lever moves the flap.

Alignment of the screw to allow the marble to drop onto the final inclined plane and fall through a whole and enter the next section.


Day 1  Brainstorming with Section to determine a design and get a rough sketch.

Day 2  Beginning to set up materials.  Need 2 ring stands to hold book in stable position.  Used cardboard to prevent book from falling off of ring stands. Cut hole in cardboard large enough for dominos to fall through to other side to land in pail.

Day 3  Adjusted position of pail to catch domino and start moving when the domino is added to the mass of the pail. Meanwhile, tweaking position(angle) of pulley and length of string.

Day 4   Adjusting length of flap on end of lever to release the marble or ball bearing. Also adjusting length of string based on the drop distance of the pail making sure that the flap will move enough to release the marble to fall onto the screw.

Day 5  Making sure that marble/ball bearing has enough mass to trigger section 2.  Large marble (shooter) appears to have enough mass to trigger section 2. Threads on screw need to be reinforced to consistently support large marble so that it doesn’t fall off before entering the last inclined plane.  Last inclined plane shaped with V in the bottom to guide the marble to the bottom to trigger section 2.

Day 6  Last minute fixes before setting up for trial run of entire machine. Trial run uncovered trouble spots in the machine and transitions that need to be fixed.

Day 7  Another trial run with fixes.

Day 8  Run for the grade…and lit the candle!! NO ONE recorded the final run. There is no video footage of the entire Rube Goldberg machine.


Conclusion:  The task that the class was to accomplish was to light a candle. At the end of the run, the candle was burning, so it worked.


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