Marble Run With an Inclined Plane

My first activity with an inclined plane was so much fun, I decided to create a second one, this time with marbles instead of cars. Experiment with the slope of a plane in this easy to make, hands-on activity. 

Marble run with inclined plane


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Kids will have fun rolling marbles or other small balls down an inclined plane into small cups. Provide additional learning opportunities by adding numbers to the cups and varying the sizes of marbles.

 For this activity, you will need cardboard, tape, marbles and disposable cups .

The dimensions of the marble run will be determined by the size of the cardboard you use. I used two pieces measuring 18 in. wide x 30 in. long (46 cm x 76 cm). One long piece of cardboard would probably work just as well. A bend in the middle of the run helps reduce the speed of the marble. If it rolls too quickly it is more likely to flip over the side or pop out of the cup. You can observe the speed and make alterations as you do the activity.

Marble run with inclined plane

Bend the edges of the cardboard up 2 or 3 inches (5 - 8 cm) to keep the marbles from rolling off the sides.

If you are using two pieces of cardboard, set one piece on a slant inside the other as shown in the diagram. A long strip of tape will secure the slanted piece to the base, hold the cups in place at the end of the run, and decorate the board all at the same time.

Rest the top of the slanted cardboard on a chair or low table. I tried a small deacon's bench which is 15.5 inches (40 cm) high as well as a low stool which is 11 inches (28 cm) high. The lower height seemed better as it reduced the speed of the marbles, allowing them to settle into the cups without popping back out.

Drop a marble or other small ball at the top of the inclined plane and watch it roll down to land in one of the cups.

Learning through play:
  • Add numbers (or letters) to the tops of the cups or to the tape at the front of the cups. Kids call out the numbers as their marbles roll into the cups.
  • Older children can "aim" for a certain number and add their scores.
  • Experiment with different sizes of marbles.
  • Experiment with the slope of the plane.
  • Race two marbles at a time.

With a few household materials, you can create an inclined plane that allows kids to discover and learn while playing. Visit our STEM board on Pinterest for more fun science activities for kids.

Self-adhesive products from Amazon:

Press-on Vinyl Letters and Numbers      Fibre-Craft Foam Letters



Find this activity on the Best of Kid Bloggers Posts for 2015 Pinterest board.

                                               Best of 2015 kid blogger posts


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