Program 15: Marble Runs Galore with SEC!

We had a great program the other night with our Science Explorers Club (SEC) group…MARBLE RUNS!

“Marble Runs” tested the best of our young scientists’ creativity and ingenuity…but what exactly is a marble run and how can you create one? Well, marble runs come in all shapes and sizes. Some run only along walls, and others swirl around entire rooms. Trying to figure out how to get one started? One really great resource is the Exploratorium web site and their link to “Marble Machines.”

Toothpick Run of San Francisco Bay Area

To get us in the right frame of mind, we watched a video about Scott Weaver – he spent the last 35 years creating a model of the San Francisco Bay Area from 100,000+ toothpicks! His run is free-standing and actually uses ping ping balls for its course.

Japanese Cell Phone Commercial

We also saw a Japanese cell phone commercial that utilizes a long run through a forest, where the wood steps are actually tuned to different musical notes! (As the ball moves down the track, it plays – I think – “Ode to Joy”).

A Marble Music Machine!

I couldn’t resist showing our scientists this video of a man who designed a machine that creates pop music with the muscles in his arms and many, many marbles…

The possibilities are endless!

Our SEC marble runs required a lot of creative thinking from our scientists. I supplied several tables filled with every kind of material or recycled item that a person could want – paper towel tubes and cut-up pool noodles were vital – and then I let the scientists have their pick of materials to create their runs on peg boards. There were no rules or restrictions – whatever they wanted to use, they could. Some worked in teams, some chose to work alone. Some created fairly traditional marble runs that zig-zagged from side to side on the peg board descent, while other scientists threw in a few extra “tricks” here and there. Check out the really cool results below from our program video 🙂