At my house, it seems like we are always experimenting with marble runs. Engineering activities, such as marble runs, are one of Aidan’s favorite things to do!
This afternoon, Aidan and I worked together to make a marble run with straws, hot glue, and a cardboard box. We highly recommend this activity! Perfect for a rainy day or a quiet afternoon.
To make one, you need a large, shallow cardboard box, drinking straws, and a hot glue gun. We used a low-temp gun since it’s safe for kids to use themselves. (Always be careful, and of course you know whether your child is ready for this or not! But I will say that Aidan accidentally touched the glue, and it was very minor. Only hurt for a minute or two.)
I’ve seen several versions of this floating around on Pinterest, and most involve building a maze for the marbles and then tilting the box to navigate the marble through the maze. We decided instead to prop up our box on an incline and make a track for the marble to roll down.
We didn’t draw up a plan before making ours because I knew it would be hard for Aidan to anticipate how much speed the marble would have. We did, however, test out the run after we added each piece. We also took turns holding the next piece in place and releasing the marble to make sure it would do what we wanted it to before gluing it down.
This is a great thinking activity! We glued in the first green piece at the top. Then, I held the next green piece in place and asked Aidan if he thought the marble would roll up the ramp (because of its momentum) or down the ramp. He guessed up, and was surprised when it went down! Lots to think about with speed and the angle of incline for each straw.
We stacked two straws on top of each other to add more of a bumper after our steeper inclines to keep the marbles on the track.
This method for building a marble run is very low frustration. The project is really forgiving because you can adjust the incline of your box if you need less speed for the marbles.
And the younger brothers thought it was fun to play with!
This post was inspired by this awesome cardboard box maze from Teach Preschool.