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Marble Run

In this activity students explore the effects of gravity and inertia by building a marble track from recycled cardboard tubes.

Objectives

  • Build a gravity powered machine to move a marble down a track.

  • Predict the path of a moving ball.

  • Understand how the angle of a moving ball effects its speed and how the speed changes its inertia.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    cardboard tubes or small boxes
    marbles or other small balls
    tape

Key Questions

  • How does changing the slope of the tube change the speed of the ball?
  • Can we predict where the ball will go when it exits the tube?
  • How does the speed of the ball effect how far it will go?

What To Do

  1. Split students into partners or small groups with a selection of cardboard tubes, tape and a section of blank wall.
  2. Ask students to work together to build a track to move the marble down the wall.
  3. Encourage students to test early and often to see how the marble will move on their track.
  4. Ask students to come up with challenges (see extensions, below).

Extensions

  • Cut some of the tubes in half lengthwise to make an open track.
  • Add cups, funnels or bells if you have them.
  • Encourage students to come up with an end goal for their marble to accomplish such as: ring a bell or knock over a tower.
  • Add balls of different weights or sizes to see how its movement through the track changes.

Other Resources

BC Hydro | Marble Run Challenge

Science World | Youtube| Intertia

How Stuff Works| Newton’s Laws of Motion