This adventure teaches the boys about action and reaction. Using common objects, Bear Scouts will learn about chain reactions, pulleys, and levers. The boys will take all of the things that they learn and create a fun Rube Goldberg–type machine.

The term “Rube Goldberg” is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “doing something simple in a very complicated way that is not necessary.” The use of the term was inspired by the cartoons of Rube Goldberg, an engineer-turned-cartoonist who lived from 1883 to 1970. Goldberg’s cartoons depict humorous “inventions” that make use of many principles of physics that Bears will encounter in this adventure. This adventure is all about creating a chain reaction to accomplish a simple task—and having a lot of fun along the way!


  • Learning about action and reaction
  • Cooperating as a den to complete a task
  • Encouraging your fellow Scouts
  • Looking at common objects (such as dominoes, craft sticks, marbles, string, paper cups) from different perspectives and exploring how they balance, tip over, stack, and fall to create Rube Goldberg machines

ADVENTURE REQUIREMENTS (Bear Handbook, page 206)

  1. Create an “exploding” craft stick reaction.
  2. Make two simple pulleys, and use them to move objects.
  3. Make a lever by creating a seesaw using a spool and a wooden paint stirrer. Explore the way it balances by placing different objects on each end.
  4. Do the following:
    a. Draw a Rube Goldberg–type machine. Include at least six steps to complete your action.
    b. Construct a real Rube Goldberg–type machine to complete a task assigned by your den leader. Use at least two simple machines and include at least four steps.


The cartoons of Rube Goldberg are intended to serve as inspiration for the spirit of fun and experimentation behind the activities in this adventure. As a leader, you will need to review any specific cartoons, drawings, or videos you might choose to share to ensure they are appropriate for Cub Scouts.

Remind Bears that safety is of the highest importance in all Scouting activities and that all of their inventions must align with age-appropriate guidelines for Scouts.

Between Meeting 2 and Meeting 3, Scouts will have a Do-at-Home Project for which they will be designing an imaginary Rube Goldberg machine (requirement 4a). This machine does not need to be something they can execute, so Bears can use their imaginations to create an invention on paper that would not be possible to create in reality. Bears will also need to bring materials to Meeting 3 to be used in the den’s creation of a simple Rube Goldberg machine (requirement 4b). See suggested items in the Meeting 3 Plan.

Consider searching online and previewing some sample videos of the “exploding” craft stick activity in Meeting 1 and the Rube Goldberg machines in Meeting 2 to share with the den and generate excitement. You can find a variety of creative machines featured in videos on the Rube Goldberg official site: www.rubegoldberg.com/?page=video.


To get you started in delivering fun and engaging meetings, complete Den Meeting Plans are available here on the Learning Library for the Backyard Jungle and Games Tigers Play adventures. To obtain Den Meeting Plans for all other adventures, Den Leader Guides are available at your local Scout Shop, online at scoutstuff.org, or as an eBook through Amazon.

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