The “Efficient” Light Machine – A Rube Goldberg Machine


Steps of the machine

  1. Medium ball #1 is placed at the top of the inclined plane
  2. Medium ball #1 rolls down the inclined plane
  3. Medium ball #1 crashes into the piece of cardboard in between medium ball #1 and #2
  4. Medium ball #2 starts rolling down the inclined plane
  5. Medium ball #2 falls into the bucket
  6. The bucket get dropped down by the pulley
  7. The bucket knocks over domino #1
  8. Domino #1 starts a chain reaction with the other dominoes, causing them to fall over one at a time
  9. The last domino pushes the toy car
  10. The toy car rides down the inclined plane
  11. The toy car pushes the fidget spinner (wheel and axle)
  12. The fidget spinner releases small ball #1
  13. Small ball #1 falls into the tube with the jump wire connectors
  14. The jump wire connectors receive energy from the batteries in the circuit
  15. The jump wires connectors send an electric charge through the jump wires
  16. The electric charge turns the light on

Simple Machines used:

  1. Inclined plane
  2. Wheel and Axle
  3. Pulley

Energy Transfers:

  1. When Medium Ball #1 is at the top of the inclined plane, it has gravitational potential energy.
  2. When Medium Ball #1 starts rolling, the gravitational potential energy is transformed into mechanical energy, causing the ball to move.
  3. When Medium Ball #1 crashes into Medium Ball #2, Medium Ball #1 transfers the mechanical energy to Medium Ball #2, and Medium Ball #2 starts rolling.
  4. Medium Ball #2 falls into the pulley because of gravitational energy.
  5. When the pulley starts moving, the gravitational energy is transformed into mechanical energy.
  6. The mechanical energy is transferred to the first domino when the pulley touches it.
  7. The dominoes tip over one by one due to mechanical energy.
  8. The last domino transfers the mechanical energy to the toy car.
  9. When the toy car rests at the top of the inclined plane, it has gravitational energy.
  10. When the toy car starts moving, the gravitational energy is transformed into mechanical energy.
  11. When the toy car crashes into the fidget spinner, the toy car transfers its mechanical energy to the fidget spinner.
  12. The fidget spinner moves because of mechanical energy.
  13. The fidget spinner releases Small Ball #1, which, when it is at rest, has gravitational energy.
  14. The ball falls, transforming the gravitational energy into mechanical energy.
  15. When the ball rolls down the inclined plane, it continues to use mechanical energy.
  16. During the time when the ball is not touching the jump wire connectors, the batteries have chemical energy.
  17. When Small Ball #1 touches the jump wire connectors, the chemical energy in the batteries is transformed into electrical energy.
  18. The electrical energy flows through the wires in the circuit.
  19. When the electrical energy reaches the light, the light turns the electrical energy into light energymaking it light up.

Final Design:


Scientific Method & Paper Airplanes

STEP 1 : IDENTIFY AND STATE THE QUESTION OR PROBLEM. What do you want to find out?

What style of plane flies the furthest? What modifications of each style of plane change its flight?


  • The nose does not need to always be pointy
  • The plane flies straighter if the wings are slightly bent in the right direction
  • Suzanne (the world record paper airplane) is a heart-shaped plane
  • The folds of the paper airplane must be extremely crisp and precise to make the plane fly well
  • Long rectangular wings are for slower speeds and longer glides
  • Shorter, swept-back wings are for higher speeds and maneuverability


The Classic Dart will fly the furthest because it is the easiest one to throw, and it is also the thinnest, sleekest, and longest plane, which might not make it fly very high, but will make it fly further.


Dependent Variable – the distance that each plane will fly

Independent Variable – the style of each plane

Controlled Variable – the size and the weight of each plane, in addition to the throw

Materials – x3 – 8X11 paper, x1 scissors, x1 roll of masking tape, x1 meter stick

The three types of planes I will be using :

  1. The Classic Dart:

2. The Suzanne :

3. The Basic :




The hypothesis that the Classic Dart will fly the furthest is accepted. The data shows that each trial of the Classic Dart gained more length than any of the other planes. Furthermore, the average of the Classic Dart was higher than the other planes’ averages.

The results of this investigation are useful to know more about aerodynamics and how even the slightest change of the shape of the plane can drastically change its direction or its pattern of flight.

This investigation can be improved by using a launcher or a robot to throw the planes since what could have messed with the trials could have been that each throw of each plane could have been different each time.

Other questions that need to be answered are:

What kind of other styles of planes can fly further than the Dart? If we modify the design of the dart even slightly how much will it change its flight?


I really enjoyed doing this project, mostly because it gave me a chance to really research in-depth about how paper airplanes really work and how different each design of paper airplanes works, since before I never really wondered about them and I just assumed that each plane flew about the same and that each design was different just to make them look more interesting than usual. Aerodynamics is a really fascinating subject to learn for me, since there are so many little things you need to consider, and so many adjustments you can make to each plane to make it change its course completely. It also helped me work a little bit more on teamwork, since we had to find and decide on three types of paper airplane that each of us thought would fly the best. Furthermore, I learned how to work as a team when we were testing the planes, because our strategy was that one person would throw the planes, another person would place tape on the floor to mark where it landed, and another person would measure the spaces in between each piece of tape.

What I would do different next time if I had an opportunity to do a project similar to this one would be finding even more styles of paper planes and testing them all out. I’m sure there are so many more that my group was not able to find, and some that we did find, we were not able to make, because the steps were very difficult to figure out. Another thing I would do differently is finding a way to have some kind of robot or launcher to throw the paper planes, because I believe that one of the reasons some of our trials were so different was because the throws were different each time. I would be curious to see what would happen if the throws were generated, or the exacts replicas each time it threw the paper planes.