E.F. 151 Final Team Project

E.F. 151 Final Team Project

Team MacGyver:

Stanley McGrady

Dawo Rogers

Jason Koenn

John Wallen

April 27, 2006


We, Team MacGyver, built a Rube-Goldberg device that used energy conversions to pour a glass of water. We named our device MacGyver’s water because we were inspired by the TV. Show, MacGyver, to build a device out of something normally not used to pour water. As a team we used our engineering skills and our general knowledge of physics to design a very successful device.

Design Process:

Our team goal was to build a Rube-Goldberg device that performed a simple and useful task that also satisfied the requirements of the project. Our first ideas were to make something really cool that was not hard to build, easy to get materials for, and went through at least three energy conversion steps. The best idea that we came up with was a device that poured a cup of water. The plan was to have toy race car go through a track and a loop, knock a weight attached to a pulley system, the weight would pull up a pitcher of water, and the water would pour into a cup. We discarded this idea for two main reasons. One, the materials we wanted to use was going to be hard to find and the designed seemed harder to make than to draw. Two, after finding out about what calculations we would have to do, we figured that maybe we should do a design with simpler conversions. In designing a new device, we wanted to accomplish the same goal of pouring water but with easier steps. In our thought process, we actually went backwards in coming up with our final idea. Instead of a pitcher being pulled up and poured, maybe we can knock a pitcher over some how and funnel it into a cup. Then it was suggested that maybe the race care should knock the pitcher over. Then we thought of having a pendulum type structure that swung and got the car started. Through these ideas we refined them to come up with our final project. Our final design was to have a weight swing on a pendulum and hit a car at rest on an inclined track. The car then goes down the track and knocks a bottle of water over into a funnel. The funnel filters the water down into a cup of water. We took this basic design and started getting the materials to build our project.

Project Description:

We built a Rube-Goldberg device that was simple and would be efficient. What we built was a way to pour a glass of water. We used many materials that were common to aid us in the construction of the project. We used such materials as: cardboard boxes, wooden sticks, a cup, tape, a water bottle, string, pencil erasers, a race car track( which included the car), and a beer funnel.

The construction of this was simple and easy. We first began by stacking boxes up to make the slope of the track high enough. We then connected the clamp, which was part of the track, to the top box. Now, the track was constructed. We made the track long enough to reach the end of the table. We now needed a swing. Two long wooden sticks were placed parallel within hole that we drilled in the box. A hot glue gun was used to place another stick between the two poles like a crossbar. We attached a rope to the crossbar and taped it. Two pencil erasers were tied to the end of the string to make a weight to swing. The length of the string was just long enough to hit the car on the track below and begin its way down the track. At the bottom of the track, a water bottle was placed on top of boxes stacked on the floor. Connected to the top box was a beer funnel. The tube of the funnel was placed inside of a cup that was taped to the floor.

Bill of Materials:

In building the project, we tried to make our budget as low as possible. We did this by using things we already had in our rooms that could contribute to the project. The only thing we had to go out and buy was the race car and track. The boxes and tape also minimized our budget because they were cheap and they held our project together without any problems. Here is the complete list of all of the materials used:

Items Used / Estimated Cost
Toy Car and Track / 9$
Four Boxes / 4 at 1$ each= 4$
Tape / 2$
String / .50$
Two erasers / 2 at .50$ each= 1$
Beer Bong / 5$
Wood / 2$
Total Estimated Cost / 23.50$


In our project, we were successful on creating a device that will pour a cup of water into another cup of water without any spillage. Although our system is not completely efficient, we were still successful with the water transfer. We learned that with teamwork, a good work ethic, and creative ideas we could make our Rube-Goldberg device work with limited problems. In the process of putting our project together, we ran into several problems that prevented us to piece together what we originally wanted to do. The problem with our first idea was that it would be too difficult to calculate the momentum transfers, and the building process would be extremely difficult. We did not have most of the supplies that would be needed, so that would require us to go out and by the supplies which would make us go over our 25$ budget. Not only that but it would most likely take several days to put the whole thing together. With our final project the first problem we ran into was holding the cup securely to the ground so that when the water pours into the cup it would not spill out or tip other. It took us a while to come up with an idea to fix this problem but we eventually figured it out by using duck tape and taping the funnel to the cup. The last problem we faced was the two boxes sitting on the floor. Every time the race car hit the bottle the two boxes would tip other with it, which caused the water to miss the funnel. We fixed this problem by placing weights inside the bottom box, which created enough weight so that when the race car hit the bottle the two boxes did not fall with it. If we were to change anything it would be to replace the boxes with wood. Wood would not only look nicer but it would also make the water transfer process more efficient. The downside to wood is that it is more expensive than the boxes, so that would increase our budget and it actually might of made us go over the maximum amount.


We did not use any websites or books to come up with ideas, Stanley made up the basic idea and the rest of the group finalized it by adding other minor ideas.