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805 N. Chicago Street,
Geneseo, IL 61254

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Rube Goldberg Machines

Who was Rube Goldberg?

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and inventor who lived from 1883 to 1970. The name “Rube Goldberg Machine” was coined based on machines he included in his cartoons. These machines were complex machines that performed a simple task in a complicated, indirect way. They often involve stringing together many simple machines like pulleys, levers, and inclined planes, along with other creative applications of physical force and motion.

What does a Rube Goldberg machine look like?

Have you played the game Mousetrap? If so, you’ve used a Rube Goldberg Machine. You’ve also probably seen one in a movie, on TV, or via a viral video on YouTube. Here are some examples:

How can I make a Rube Goldberg Machine?

The Geneseo Public Library would love to see your best Rube Goldberg inventions. Create a machine at home, record a video of your machine in action, and share it with us!

The best way to find inspiration to look at some examples online. Ask your parent/guardian to help you search for videos of Rube Goldberg machines to get inspired.

Once you have some ideas, here are some tips to get started:

  • Plan it out: Don’t just start assembling a machine. Draw a diagram on paper with pictures of the pieces of the machine and descriptions of what is supposed to happen at each stage in the action.
  • Use common items around your house: Some common pieces used in Rube Goldberg Machines are simple things you already have at home: balls, wooden blocks, dominoes, string, and toys.
  • Build in sections and test: Don’t build your full machine all at once. Most Rube Goldberg Machines are made up of different sections with transition points between them. After you’ve created a plan, build the first section and make sure it works the way you want it to work before moving on to the next one.

Where can I learn more about Rube Goldberg machines when creating my own?

Check out these resources for ideas and tips for making your own machine:

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Library Information
805 N. Chicago Street,
Geneseo, IL 61254
Phone: 309-944-6452
Fax: 309-944-6721
Toll free number for renewals:

Contact Information:
Claire Crawford, Director