Physics 163 - Quarter 2 Projects

Rube Goldberg

Project Description

Scoring Rubric

Due Dates

The Project Corner

The Refrigerator


Overview:

In this project, you will demonstrate your knowledge of principles in physics by designing, creating and explaining a Rube Goldberg device.

 

Sample: Professor Butt's Scientific Barometer, 1931

Flash of lightning (A) from distant thunderstorm, sends electrical vibrations (B) to magnetic spring (C) which contracts and causes knife (D) to cut cord (E) and release horseshoe (F), allowing it to fall on string (G), and pull trigger on cannon (H) which shoots hole in wall. Rat (I), seeing a new entrance to living room, enters and is caught in trap ( J) which springs and pulls rope (K) raising storm signal flag (L). Sailor (M) is a little cuckoo, thinks he is at sea and hauls down sail (N) causing top boom (O) to stroke against arrow (P) and swing into position indicating storm. If you have trouble finding a nutty sailor, get a sane sailor and drive him crazy by telling him they are going to close up saloons all over the world.

 

Directions:

1. Design of Rube Goldberg Device

  1. Brainstorm some ideas about what type of goals you wish to accomplish with this sort of device (e.g., light a candle, turn on a light, etc.). Fill in the blanks in the table below. In the example above, Professor Butts designed a device with the goal of turning the weather signal to the storm position by means of a lightning bolt.
  2. Do a literature search (2 different resources, 2 sources per resource for full credit) to find out about simple machines and how they work. In addition to resources listed in the book, there are a variety of resources on the Internet. Determine what machines would be best for your situation (e.g., screw, levers, inclines, pulleys, etc.).
  3. List many of the ways in which energy can be transformed from one form to another. Fill in the blanks in the table below.
  4. Determine some machines that can be used to make these transformations and that can be physically assembled. Fill in the blanks in the table below.
  5. Decide on a Rube Goldberg device that will achieve one of your goals listed in the table above through the use of technology/machines that transforms energy from one form to another. There should be at least 5 transformations involved in your machine.

Possible Goals

Energy Transformations

Possible Machines

1. ________________

1. ________________

2. ________________

1. ________________

2. ________________

2. ________________

3. ________________

4. ________________

3. ________________

4. ________________

3. ________________

5. ________________

6. ________________

5. ________________

6. ________________

4. ________________

7. ________________

8. ________________

7. ________________

8. ________________

 

2. Explanation of Rube Goldberg Device (Paper)

Submit a formally-written, word-processed lab report. The lab report should include the following sections:

  1. Purpose: Describe the purpose of your project. In a few sentences, describe the scenario which you are trying to model and identify the goal which you will be attempting to accomplish. The statement should be a purpose statement (procedural steps should not be discussed).
  2. Description of the Model: The different parts of the device should be described in detail as to how they function. References to information from the literature search should be included here. A discussion as to the ability of the individual machines in the device to perform their duties is recommended.
  3. Theoretical Background: The energy transformations should be described in this part. A way to keep track of the type and amount of energy is required, e.g., bar charts, sample calculations, etc. Make reference to conserved or non-conserved machine inputs. If the system is non-conserved (an external force does work), where does the external work come from and what is its effect on the system?
  4. Data Section: This should include a record of variable changes that had to be made as the design process unfolded with specific results included. For example, if the launch velocity of a projectile to reach a certain point is too high for the launch device, what will be altered and how? Organize your data in a meaningful way using a tabular format.
  5. Discussion of Results: Describe the final successful (we hope) version of the model you have constructed. Describe in detail any problems or difficulties this device might have in completing the goal. Discuss its reliability (i.e., can it get repeatable results?). Discuss the possible energy losses or machine malfunctions which might take place over time.

 

3. Creation of Rube Goldberg Device (Product)

Using actual hardware, design your Rube Goldberg device and package it in a manner that makes it presentable to the public. Once the device is made and successfully accomplishes a goal, request a time for a videotaped presentation; your teacher will videotape a successful operation of the machine. (And if first you don't succeed, try... .). If necessary, consider the need for re-design and re-building.

 

Due Dates:

The following due dates have been tentatively assigned for the completion of your project.

Submission of Design (steps 1a - 1e)

12/10

Description of Device - Rough Draft (steps 2a, 2b)

12/12

Theoretical Background - Rough Draft (step 2c)

12/18

Signs of Initial Construction (step 3)

12/18

Completion of Final Product (step 3)

1/7

Submission of Paper (step 2)

1/7

 


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This page last updated on 11/19/97.