Rube Goldberg and Potential Energy

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Materials

(per group)

  • rubber ball
  • 1-ft ruler
  • 3-ft ruler
  • tape
  • magnet
  • Hot Wheels car
  • Marbles
  • Skewers
  • Dominoes
  • String
  • Bowl
  • Scissors

Forming a Hypothesis

  1. What kinds of energy do you see when you watch a video of a Rube Goldberg machine? (Examples: OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass, Red Bull’s The Athlete Machine, Honda’s Accord commercial)
  2. In most of these videos, a really small object (a domino or a cog, for example), ends up making really big things (a sledgehammer, a car tire) move- how is this possible?

Experiment

This part’s easy: use whatever you have (or anything in the room) to make a Rube Goldberg machine that somehow gets the ball (or the car or a domino) to land in the bowl. Describe of draw a sketch of the machine you built in your lab notebook.

After the Experiment

What other items would you have liked to use in your Rube Goldberg machine?

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