Rube Goldberg

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Simple Machines

Literature – Poetry

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Rube Goldberg

Cartooning, Drawing, Collage, Performance Art, Sculpture


Rube Goldberg was an engineer turned cartoonist.  At one point, he created cartoons that took a simple action and created a complex set of steps to complete said action.  As time progressed, people started trying to physically create similar actions. They were called Rube Goldberg machines.

I found two cool videos about Goldberg on the web. The first is from Sesame Street.  You can find it here:  This video is just perfect. It not only introduces Goldberg, but also simple machines and a kinetic artist. I don’t know if intermediate students would appreciate it. In my experience, even first graders can be snobbish about preschool things. I remember one year, a first grade teacher saw a cool purple dinosaur and created a poster of him for her classroom. The first day of school, the students walked into the classroom  and exclaimed, “Eww, Barney!!!” If you can get away with it though, I’d use it. The other is definitely for intermediate students.

You can find it here:

(I would only play it up to the point where they talk about his machine comics. The rest is about political cartoons which is off topic.)

A good place to find 29 examples of Rube Goldberg can be found here: .

Two great physical Goldberg videos can be found here: 


You can find information about simple machines here:

(The video included is good,but it must have been made in another country because they pronounce lever differently.)

You can also visit the daVinci website that I talked about in last week’s blog. You can find it here:

Can students name the simple machines used in this complex machine?

If you choose to have the students simply draw a machine,

I’ve always found this poem and illustration by Shel Silverstein inspirational:

Or, maybe create a collage. You can find a cool lesson here:

If you choose to go the actual machine route, here are some places that might help:

And last but not least, another website that I mentioned in my last blog is Brain Power Boy.

You can find it here:

It has a whole unit on Rube Goldberg including addresses for video games and other resources.

The “Goldburger to Go Game” is Great!



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