Year 8 – Rube Goldberg Machine 

Learning Objective:  ​

Label and justify designs with the possible materials and dimensions using full sentences.


1. Who was Rube Goldberg? 

A designer, engineer and inventor who created the first Rube Goldberg Machine. 

2. What was Rube Goldberg’s job? 

He had lots of interesting jobs but he mainly worked as a cartoonist for newspapers. 

3. What is a Rube Goldberg machine? 

A contraption/invention/device that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction.  

4. How many stages should your Rube Goldberg machine include? 

At least 3 steps. 

5. What is a design specification? 

A document that provides information about what the final product should be. 

Want to be a little creative? Click on the link to create an online marble run before you start designing! https://www.marblerun.at/tracks/new  

Welcome back Year 8! Last week we looked at who Rube Goldberg was and what a Rube Goldberg machine is. We then explored existing Rube Goldberg machines which inspired us to create a design specification which highlighted what your Rube Goldberg Machine must do. 


Designing and building is essential to design technology. Designers follow the steps of the design process to help them create the best possible solutions to real-world problems. These challenges may be simple or complex. 

The design process is shown below as well as the week which the stages will be completed 

Task 1 – Initial Design 10 MINS 

Using your design specification, create a power point/document identifying possible objects you have available and how they could be used in a Rube Goldberg machine. Remember the objects used for the ‘run’ (objects used to make jumps and ramps or channels) are just as important as the moving objects. 

Here are some ideas to get you started…

– Books, used as dominos 

– Bucket, slowly filled with water acting as a counterweight 

– String, used to lift or swing items 

– Pringles tube, used to funnel a ball 

– Pencils, used as a wall to guide marbles 

View the link below for ideas of what sort of household objects could be used in a Rube Goldberg Machine 

Template to help

Task 2 – Design Improvement – 20 MINS 

Now you have decided what objects are available and how you think they might work, it’s time to start combining the different stages together to make a larger machine. Remember, a Rube Goldberg machine must have at least 3 stages
Either using a computer or drawing by hand, sketch out the plan for your Rube Goldberg machine. Please annotate your design explaining what is happening at each stage. 

Here are some ideas to get you started… 

The design can be drawn simply (see fig 1) or in the original style of Rube Goldberg if you wish (see fig 2) or even using CAD software like SketchUp (fig3) 

Design Development Writing Frame

Task 3 – Prototyping –  25 MINS 

Before we can think about constructing our final Rube Goldberg machine, we need to prototype the different stages. 

A prototype is a simple experimental model of an idea used to test the design and find out whether it works. If improvements are needed, the design can be revised, and changes can be made to the prototype before being re-tested. This is known as an Iterative Design process 

Iterative design

What are the advantages of prototyping? 

We can’t learn everything we need to know from research, sometimes we must do our own testing to get answers to a question. Prototyping allows designers to create models and test them to see how they work (or don’t work, as is often the case).  

Please now prototype your 3 stages (or your 3 most complex stages if you have more than 3) and experiment with your prototypes to improve them and make them more efficient. Please document the iterative design process by either photographing/filming the stages on your phone and uploading the footage to the link below as we would love to see the development stages. 

Please also fill out a table like as you are prototyping (a blank one will be attached) EXAMPLE

Blank table

Below are some examples of prototype testing 


The making stage, using knowledge we have gained from the prototyping stage, we will make a fully working Rube Goldberg machine.  

This four week project will continue next week. Remember if you’re struggling with something you can email your DT teacher. ​

Good Luck!