by David Hamilton, Director of Programs.
We invite you and your students to take on EXPLO’s Marble Run Challenge.
Here’s a low-cost, ready-to-go, paper engineering challenge. All you need is some paper (cardstock is even better), scissors, a glue stick and a timer. Watch our Designs in 90 Seconds video below for the details and instructions!
Using only paper, create a path on a standard sheet of letter-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) so that a marble dropped at the top of the sheet rolls off the bottom in precisely 5 seconds.
- Place the paper on an inclined surface. The angle of that incline is entirely up to the designer.
- You may place the paper in either the portrait or landscape orientation.
- The path of the ball is entirely up to the designer.
- The size, shape, and type of marble are entirely up to the designer.
- Start your timer when the marble crosses the paper’s top edge and stop the timer when the ball exits the opposing bottom edge.
- You must make all obstacles out of only paper and glue (use a glue stick or household glue). No tape.
- Designers may use tape or pins to adhere their paper sheet to the inclined surface, but these elements may not interfere with the marble’s path.
- Marbles may leave the confine of the sheet in any direction as long as they only travel on a support system made of paper and all supports attach to the original sheet. You may not connect a support piece to a wall, table, or other surfaces.
Hints for Teachers:
- This challenge is easier if students use cardstock or heavy-weight paper.
- Consider cutting starter strips to save time. Allow students to alter those strips using scissors. See our starter obstacles below.
- On average, it takes 30-60 minutes to complete one test ramp.
- Encourage students to test their ramp continuously. Share our video about the importance of cycling the design cycle.
Share Your Solutions:
- We are so excited to see what you come up with! Make a video that shows both your solution and a timer and post it to your favorite social media platform using #EXPLOmarblerun. Please also tag us when you post it: @EXPLOElevate
Marbles: These plastic marbles are smooth-rolling and lightweight. Increase the degree of difficulty by using heavier wood, glass, or metal marbles.
Starter Forms: Click HERE to download a set of EXPLO’s Marble Run Obstacles. Print this out and cut with scissors or cut them on your laser cutter or smart cutting machine.