Teacher Review For Rube Works: The Official Rube Goldberg Invention Game

a springboard for making real inventions

Jeff F.
Technology coordinator
Kermit McKenzie Junior High School
Guadalupe, CA
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
My Rating 3
Learning Scores
Engagement 4
Pedagogy 2
Support 2
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time 5-15 minutes
Great for Further application
Small group
Student-driven work
Great with Advanced learners
How I Use It
We make models and working inventions all year long (solar ovens, solar cars, windmill generators, model houses, etc) so it is not a big leap for my students to get an end of year challenge to go 'Rube Goldberg'. They need to make at least 5 energy transformations, and 3 level changes (at least one going up) to finally close an electrical circuit to set off a buzzer. The use found materials, from dominoes to spinners, lots of cardboard and rubber bands, the sky is the limit. This app gets them in the mood, gives them out-of-box ideas, and provides another work station when teams get in a building traffic jam. Any individual on a team can always run through some puzzles to keep fresh and get new perspective for the team. I don't see this as a whole class or core learning tool, but rather as a reminder to us all that learning should be fun.
My Take
This paid app (around $2) is useful for warming up the creative side of thinking. It can be an antidote for excessive direct instruction, and for some students, a wonderful way to engage in school time without feeling pressured. It doesn't teach principles of force and motion, but does reward students who intuitively apply what they know from experience and observation. Most effective I believe if inventions, building and making models, and any kind of design is already part of your instruction. The introduction, giving how-to's and tips, is an exercise in reading and sequencing instructions, which is always good for students to improve!