Introduction: Build Your Own Goldberg Machine From Cardboard!

About: Paper Crane Lab is a STEM education space in Bangalore, India that runs workshops and classes around the city. We are a group of enthusiastic teachers who love to experiment and combine STEM and the arts. Our …

Goldberg machines are simply put, an exceedingly complicated (but equally fun) way to do a simple task. These machines can be as short, or as long and complex as you would like them to be! All you need is an imaginative mind, and some household objects, and we can get started. Paper Crane Lab teaches you a simple set of mechanisms made from cardboard and other household objects to open a sign/ greeting card to do a fabulous reveal!

If you would like a video tutorial of this, you can check out our link below.




Blade/paper cutter




Our template (optional):

Push pin


Other household items to add on

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Plan Your Design

Step 2: Part 1: Making the Marble Slide

The first part of our machine has a cardboard slide for the marble to slide from. A sequence of multiple slides can lead to a marble moving across all of them before moving to another part of the machine.

Step 3: Creating the Slide Structure

The best way to create this slide is to take a piece of cardboard which is fairly large (say 10x15 cm as per our template) and divide into three parts of widths 3, 4, and 3 cm as you can see in our template.

Score on the lines gently to cut through the cardboard barely enough to create a joint that can be folded at. Ensure that you do not cut all the way through, or the piece may get detached from this piece.

Fold both the 3 cm wide strips inwards in the same direction to create a boat like structure to hold the marble.

Step 4: Moving Your Marbles

Now place a tape across the two sides as shown in the figure so this boat structure holds firmly. By placing multiple of these slide figures one below another, you can have a sequential movement of your marble from top to bottom, or from one side to another based on your design.

Step 5: Part 2: Making Your Dominoes

Now some people may already have a box of dominoes at home, but for those of you who don’t, we have a very simple method to make your own dominoes from cardboard.

To create these dominoes, all you have to do is tape a few small cardboard pieces ( say 3x4 cm as per our template) one behind each other such that their bases are aligned. This way, you can place them on the ground and they can stand. You can vary these dimensions as per your requirements in your machine. A bunch of these cardboard dominoes together can create the domino-effect in your machine.

Step 6: Part 3: Making Your See Saw or Lever

The third mechanism we will show you how to make from cardboard is the see saw. This mechanism can be used to land something like a marble, or a heavy object, to cause another object to either move up, or roll away as you can see in the figure.

To make this see saw, take two pieces of cardboard of around 10x2 cm as shown in our template. Score at the midpoint of one of them such that you get it to fold over about that line as you can see in our figure. Use a thumbtack or a push pin to secure it to the other cardboard piece as you can see. Now you have a see saw that moves up and down.

Step 7: Part 4: Creating an Opening Action

The last part of our Goldberg machine had a card moving away, which led to our greeting card/ paper sign opening up. This can be easily done by sticking a piece of ribbon/thread/string to a car, and to one end of our paper sign/ greeting card as you can see in the figure. Moving the car moves the end of the paper, opening it out. It is just that simple.

Step 8: Customize

It is now your turn to add these elements, add your own with different objects from your surroundings and make your own goldberg machine to do a fantastic name reveal, or a greeting card reveal, or anything else you can imagine. Do send us your creations, and tag us on instagram at