Marble Run – more Kinetic Energy fun!
Oh boy do we love Marble runs in our house! Before the school holidays I had been putting aside paper towel rolls and plastic bag rolls, knowing that they would come in use in one way or another. We had had so much fun with our last Kinetic Energy activity that I thought we should try a cardboard roll marble run next. They made a lot of different marble runs and wanted to leave it up, so they could share it with their friends when they came over. Their friends then went home asking for cardboard rolls to make their own. This funtivity has been a big hit for us.
What do you need:
- Cardboard rolls
- Blu tack
- Basket or plastic container
- Painters tape
- Plastic bottle
- Cardboard boxes
- Different sized marbles
- Pompoms, Plastic beads, Jelly beans, Lego heads,
What to do:
Find a blank wall or sliding door to set up your Marble Run. Keep in mind that your little critters may not want to take it down straight away so make sure it is on a wall or door that won’t be needed for a few days.
Explain to your little critters that you will be making a track for the marbles to travel on, down the wall and into the plastic container.
Set up a simple example using two tubes and show them how the marble will travel along the tube.
Give them the cardboard tubes and Blu tack or painters tape and let them design whatever they wanted. Encourage their attempts but ultimately let them take charge, you may be surprised by what they come up with.
After trying the tubes for a while, try cutting the cardboard rolls in half and make them more like a slippery dip for the marble, try adding boxes and recycled plastic bottles to their designs, this will allow for more creativity with their designs.
You can get them thinking with questions like “How long or tall can you make it?” “What could you change to make the marble go faster?”
You can also try releasing different round objects down the run and discuss what rolls faster or slower, is it due the the angle of the cardboard tubes or the weight of the object?
The Science behind the fun:
Obviously gravity is involved in this experiment; releasing the marble from above it will naturally fall to the ground.
However there is also the changing of Potential Energy (energy that is stored in a stationary object) to Kinetic Energy (energy from a moving object).
In this case the Potential energy is released when the marble is released and converted to Kinetic Engergy. This Kinetic Energy increases as the marble gathers speed due to gravity and the positioning of the cardboard rolls. When the cardboard rolls are horizontal the marble slows but when they are angled toward the ground more the marbles speed and Kinetic Energy increases.
Our little critters used their engineering skills to try new ideas, test and retest. When they encountered a problem, like the marble flying off the track, they would have to think critically and creatively to identify the cause of the problem and improve their design. They did this all while having fun, I love hidden learning!
We would love to see what Marble Run designs you and your little critter come up with. Pop over to our Facebook page and share a comment or a photo of the fun you are having together.