Chain Reactions

Can you get a ball into a cup using a cookbook, Ramen noodles, a tuna can, and some rulers?

Build a wacky chain reaction known as a Rube Goldberg Machine by using things around the house! Fun for everyone aged 3 to 83.

Prep It

Gather random materials to use. Some good starters are:

  • Things that roll (like marbles, bouncy balls, toilet paper tubes, cans of soup, and toy cars)
  • Things that can knock other things over (dominoes, cereal boxes, individual packets of Ramen noodles)
  • String (ribbon, shoelaces, neckties)
  • Building materials (tape, stacks of books, rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, clothespins, toy blocks )

Play It

If you would like, search YouTube for “Rube Goldberg Machine” for some ideas. When you find a video you feel is appropriate to share with the children in your care, watch it together for inspiration! Below are some of our favorites 😃

1. Decide on a simple task your machine should accomplish.

Here are some ideas:

  • Knock a ball into a trash can
  • Pour cereal out of the box, into a bowl
  • Get a ball from one end of the room to another without touching it
  • Pop a balloon

2. Give children freedom to build!

Tell them to make a machine that gets to the goal in as MANY STEPS as possible.

Depending on their age, you should change how much help you give with ideas and construction.

Children will be exploring gravity, engineering, and physics without even knowing they’re learning!