Rube Goldberg Machines

8-10 yrs old

11-13 yrs old

14-18 yrs old

Math & Economics


Rube Goldbergs provide a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of Physics concepts in a creative way.

avatar Submitted By: Minecraft Education

October 25, 2016


  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate a physics concept in Minecraft

Guiding Ideas

Mini-Lesson (whole class)

Building an elaborate Rube Goldberg is helpful in demonstrating physics concepts like gravity, but the initial rate of a ball falling down a ramp can easily simulate this principle.
•    How do you know how far an object will fall?
•    What if you want to make it go farther?

Try building a simple ramp for a rolling object.
•    If you release the ball, how far will it go?
•    How can you determine the distance traveled inside Minecraft?

This should be a formula: d=rate/time where the distance would be the length of the blocks traveled.  The rate would be calculated by using a phone or the clock on the computer to determine how long the ball took to reach the bottom. From here students can determine a rate as he variable in the equation.

Student Activities

Cooperative group activity choices:
Teams should decide on other physics applications that could be used within Minecraft.
•    Option One: Student can build a model of their Minecraft ramp to scale in real life.
•    Option Two: Students can build an elaborate Rube Goldberg in Minecraft using more features like waterfalls to power their systems, or turning off water sources, Teachers would first insist on a draft drawing and then have students design their work in Minecraft.

Performance Expectations

Evidence of Learning:
•    Students will build the initial ramp in Minecraft.  They will add a sign to their ramp to demonstrate the rate of how the ball traveled and even use the sign to show their work.

•    Students could take the imagined, more elaborate Minecraft Rube Goldberg and build them as larger projects.
•    Students could also use Redstone to demonstrate physics concepts in Minecraft that do not apply: how would you have to adjust Minecraft blocks to show gravity?


  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

External References