Home STEM/STEAM A Magnificent Marble Run

A Magnificent Marble Run

by Peggy Reimers
Blue marbles

One of the best things about my job with TCEA is connecting with educators I have had the privilege of working with in prior trainings. It is so enjoyable to find out what is happening in their classrooms and campuses. 

Lisa Gossard from the Preston Hollow Presbyterian School attended a TCEA Makers workshop this past summer and I saw her again at the CTS Academy in November. I was so glad I sat with her during lunch because she shared a wonderful collaborative project her kids came up with. Bonus time, she had photos.

I’m sure you have heard of marble runs. You can find pre-fab marble run kits from Mindware or Fat Brain Toys. I have also seen marble runs made out of LEGOs, pool noodles, and cardboard tubes. The students from PHPS put an awesome twist on marble runs by attaching their cardboard tubes to the wall, adding an extra level (pun intended!) of challenge.

Materials:Marble Run

  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Cardboard: toilet tissue, paper towel and gift wrap rolls
  • Marbles of different sizes
  • Free unobstructed wall space

Point to Consider on this Project

  1. Have students work in groups of two or three.
  2. Students can map out their marble run on grid paper.
  3. Sneak in some math by having the grid equal true distance used on the wall.
  4. Before actually running the marbles, make predictions on which path is faster.
  5. Of course, the “safety girl” in me comes out when I think of this project.  Make sure you have a plan before your students climb on chairs to gain that extra bit of height they really, really need. Establish those boundaries before the activity gets going.
  6. Make sure you use painter’s tape, so marring the wall is not a concern.

These two designed not only a run, but a marble sorter.

Six Bona Fide EDU Bonuses with a Wall Marble Run

  • Challenge the imagination
  • Inspire observations
  • Provide an avenue for deductive reasoning
  • Encourage logical thinking  
  • Allow for extensive problem solving
  • Offer inexpensive joy

Please share your marble run photos on Twitter with #TCEA and @preimers.

Photo Source: Lisa Gossard, Preston Hollow Presbyterian School


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