TINKERING & MAKING

Marble Mazes

Children will tinker with marbles and tubing to investigate movement.

Lesson Objective

Children will tinker with marbles and tubing to discover how the shape and steepness of the tube affects movement.

Science

What You'll Need

  • Pegboard – 3' × 4' pieces (available inexpensively at hardware or home improvement stores)
  • Foam pipe insulation tubes – 1" diameter (available inexpensively at hardware and home improvement stores)
  • Masking tape – 1 roll
  • Plastic tie wraps - 8" length
  • Large (5/8") marbles

 

What To Do

Note: Divide the children into groups of 4.

  1. Cut pieces of the tubing into different lengths.
  2. Give each group a few lengths of tubing and some marbles.
  3. Tell the children to tinker with these materials.
  4. Challenge them to try figure out how they can put the marble in one end of the tubing and have it roll out of the opposite end.
  5. Ask the children what they can do with the tubing to make the marble roll differently (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  6. Demonstrate connecting different lengths of tubing using masking tape. Show children how to make loops, curves, spirals, and ramps.
  7. Assist the children with connecting their tube mazes to the pegboard with the tie wraps.
  8. Encourage children to try out the mazes created by other groups.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what we can do with these materials.
  • Explain how you can make the marble roll faster.
  • Tell me what you think will happen if we add another piece of tubing.
  • Describe what you can do to the tubing to change the path of the marble.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what we can do with these materials.
  • Explain how you can make the marble roll faster.
  • Tell me what you think will happen if we add another piece of tubing.
  • Describe what you can do to the tubing to change the path of the marble.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Have races to see which maze the marbles pass through the fastest.
  • Encourage children to create marble mazes with other materials such as blocks, Legos, craft sticks, and discarded cardboard tubes and boxes.
  • Make marble paint mazes by rolling a marble in paint. Place it on a sheet of white construction paper placed in the bottom of a shirt box. Tip the box different ways to create a marble maze on the paper. Add marbles covered in different colors for variety.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain that raising one end of the tubing would make the marble roll faster?
  • Could children explain that the marble would have a longer path if additional tubing were added?
  • Could children describe that the path of the marble would change by adding curves, loops, and spirals

Resources

Did You Know?

Motion is defined as a change in position. The marble rolling through the tube is an example of a simple motion. The motion becomes more complex when the tube is twisted. Another example of complex motion is when the tube is tilted, creating a ramp. The tilting of the tube is a force, which causes the marble to increase speed. A marble moving through a maze is another complex motion.

Mazes can be made of hedges, mirrors, wood, or other things. Corn mazes are the most common type of maze in the United States. Mazes have been part of history for thousands of years. The winding path of a maze was thought to be for spiritual journeys.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • tinker – to work with something in an experimental manner.
  • tube – a long, hollow piece of foam used to hold things.
  • opposite – completely different from something else.
  • loop – the rounded shape made when a rope or something similar curves back and crosses itself.
  • spiral – a curve that circles around from a fixed point.
  • maze – a complicated network of paths.

Lesson Tips

  • Instead of plastic tie wraps, bendable wire can be used (by teachers only) to secure the foam to the pegboard. After twisting the wire to hold the foam in place, be sure to cover sharp wire edges with tape.
  • Cardboard paper towel tubes and gift-wrap tubes can be used in place of foam insulation tubing.
  • Place additional foam insulation tubing and marbles in the discovery area for further investigation. Adult supervision is recommended.

Books

  • Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
  • Toby Counts His Marbles by Cindy Szekeres
  • Arthur Loses His Marbles by Stephen Krensky

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS