Who isn't fascinated by a marble run? Kids love to watch the
tiny ball travel back and forth as it moves through the tubing.
Parents can appreciate the engineering and design that go into
these simple devices. You certainly could buy a marble run from a
store, but you'll have more fun making your own (plus everybody
will learn a thing or two along the way).
This project helps kids think about basic engineering and
mechanical concepts through hands-on experience-see gravity in
Start with a sturdy, large piece of cardboard as your base, and
then raid the recycling bin for discarded paper towel and toilet
paper rolls. Decide on a color scheme for your marble run and paint
each of the components separately using poster or tempura paints
and allow the paint to dry completely. (Or skip this step and just
use the raw cardboard to make your creation.)
Lay out all the various tubes and think about how you want to
design your marble run. Keep in mind each piece needs to slope into
the next and the marble needs to be able to travel continuously.
Use scissors to cut small openings that will allow the marble to
drop into a lower tube to transition from row to row.
Don't glue any pieces to the cardboard until you are sure that
your design works (run your marbles through it a few times to make
sure it functions as it should).
An adult can use a sturdy craft glue or a hot glue gun to attach
each component to the cardboard. Once the glue has dried, check
your marble run for any loose spots and apply additional glue
before you get started. Over time, the marble run may need
occasional glue touch-ups.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.
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