Science for Kids: Create a Marble Run

Our latest science for kids activity is all about physics! You’ll be creating a marble run at home and exploring what happens to the marble as you make changes to the track.

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

Whenever I  present my kids with science experiments, my main goal is to inspire them to make predictions and critically think about the world around them.  Both my 2 year old and 5 year old had a blast exploring this marble run! Lucy continuously came up with new ideas to try! (This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.)

Science for Kids: Create a Marble Run

Materials for the Marble Run

  • Foam pipe insulation- 6 feet (We bought ours from the local hardware store. The width of the insulation was 1 1/4 inches, and the thickness of the wall was 3/8 inch. There’s a variety of sizes that will work.) 
  • Tape
  • Marbles (Our marbles were similar to these marbles and bought at a local store.)

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

Procedure

1. Cut the foam tubes in half.

2. Tape the two halves together so you have a 12 foot long piece of tubing. 

3. Now the fun part~ experiment with the track! 

  • Start by finding an area in  your house or outside where you have quite a bit of room to stretch the tube out. 
  • Tape one side of the tube onto something somewhat high like a table.
  • I let the kids roll the marble down the marble run just like that, with no hills, to see what would happen.
  • Find something to place under the tubing (pillow, shoebox, books etc.) to make a hill. (The kids used our felt Christmas trees!) Roll the marble down the track and see what happens. What happens when you move the hill or make it taller?
  • After experimenting with one hill, add a second hill and explore.

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

4. Allow time to explore the marble run with two hills. It was fun watching the kids try to figure out places the hills could be along the marble run that would work and wouldn’t work!

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

After exploring the hills, the kids found a long cardboard tube from an old roll of wrapping paper. They used it to make a tunnel by placing the track inside the tubing. 

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

 

The experimented with the tunnel in different places along the track. Their favorite setup was to place it at the end of the track!

Science for Kids: Exploring a Homemade Marble Run~ Buggy and Buddy

What’s Going On?

You are exploring physics! Gravity pulls the marble down the first hill. At the top of the hill, the marble has potential energy (energy that’s stored up and ready to be released). As the marble rolls down the hills the potential energy turns into kinetic energy (energy of motion). 

Tips

  • In order for the marble run to work, the initial hill has to be the tallest hill.
  • This science exploration is fun for a variety of ages. Even my 2 year old was completely enamored with the marble run. He played with it for days! (Of course if your child is under 3 years of age, please remember marbles are choking hazards. Alway supervise closely and never leave your child unattended.)

Want to Go Even Further?

Related activities to extend the learning for various ages.

  • Print out this comparison chart to record your observations of how hill height affect the marble rolling. 

marble run printable image

  • Add more than two hills or curves to your track and observe how it affects the rolling marble.
  • Time how long it takes your marble to complete the track. Brainstorm ways your marble could complete the track in less time and try out your ideas.
  • Related article: How Roller Coasters Work

We have lots of other science experiments on Buggy and Buddy! Be sure to check them out!

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Comments

  1. I saw this now on Instagram and came here to check it out. I LOVE this idea, now only if I can find these foam things here :)
    Veens recently posted…‘All by Myself’ ActivitiesMy Profile

  2. Oh, what a fantastic idea to have a homemade marble run! Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!
    Natalie recently posted…Making Christmas Plans: Afterschool Blog HopMy Profile

  3. Oh I love this. It is simply amazing how many things can be learned just through free play and discovery learning! We are totally doing this very soon. They enjoyed playing with a similar exhibit at a science center, but there just wasn’t the kind of time and relaxed atmosphere for them to truly experiment. I know my boys would love relaxed time to explore these concepts.
    Heather recently posted…Power of the ImaginationMy Profile

  4. Brilliant and resourceful! I absolutely adore this, Chelsey, and I’m sure that my kids would be enthralled as well.
    Rachelle recently posted…Tips on How to Clean Up After a Creative Session with KidsMy Profile

  5. Thanks for joining in our Playful Preschool FB Shareday! We’ve included a link to this delightful activity on this week’s Reindeer Learning Post! (and it was one of my favorites of everything shared this week!) http://bit.ly/1fqQ4qn

  6. What a great indoor play idea! Definitely one to try. Thanks for linking up!
    Anna@The Measured Mom recently posted…Word Family Activities for Short u (final set of short vowel Read ‘n Stick!)My Profile

  7. Great idea,
    I am following you at Sharing Saturdays. What a great idea.
    Blessings,
    Janis http://www.janiscox.com Author of Tadeo Turtle
    Janis Cox recently posted…Creative Saturdays – Tadeo Turtle with Paper and GlueMy Profile

  8. What a great resource for our Classical Conversations homeschooling family! Thank you so much!

  9. I’m sharing this on my After School round up today!
    Anna@The Measured Mom recently posted…Screen Free Activities for Kids (plus a new After School Linky!)My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] I–um I mean, the kids–can’t wait to make Buggy and Buddy’s DIY marble run. It looks like so much […]

  2. […] DIY Marble Run – Buggy and Buddy’s kids created a fun marble run from things they had around the house.  My kids would love, love, love this! […]

  3. […] Science for Kids: Create a Marble Run from Buggy and Buddy […]

  4. […] Exploring Physics: Create a Homemade Marble Run  […]

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