Introduction: 1 Minute Marble Run

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At MakersBox, we are a group of engineers, educators and media guys all working together to inspire the next generation to Innovate and Invent. We do a lot of work with students and recently we had to teach some students from Grade-7 about Gravity and Contact-Forces. That is when we got the idea about a 1-Minute Marble Run.


Following are the items needed to make the Marble Run

  • Perforated Cardboard Boxes.
  • Cutting Blade/Scissor.
  • Tape (Preferably 1.5 inches wide).
  • Hot Glue Gun with Glue Sticks.
  • Ruler
  • Paint Spray Cans.
  • Stapler
  • Marbles
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Foam (optional)
  • Rubber Sheet (optional)
  • Polyester Sheet (optional)

Step 1: Creating the Base

To make the marble run game, first, we need to stiff out all the folding edges of a perforated cardboard carton. To make the Marble Run in a good size, we will be using the complete cardboard and for joining, we will use sticky tape and cover all the joints and edges. This will help us in achieving stiffness for our base.

If you feel like the base needs to be stiffer, you can simply paste another cardboard on the back of the opened up cardboard using Glue.

Step 2: Making the Stand for Our Base

Now, for the next step, we need to make our base stand vertical.

To achieve that, we folded 2 edges of our base and join them from the back using another cardboard piece, making a standoff. This piece was 30 centimeters in width and was fixed using stapler and tape. Stapler helps in joining the pieces together whereas tape fortifies the joint.

Step 3: Painting the Base

Now, our cardboard base is able to stand on the surface, so we will take a spray can and paint it. You can even make decorative patterns/graffitis of your choice. Simply coat it with acrylic spray and leave it to dry.

We used a combination of Blue and Gold Acrylic Spray to give it a Booster Gold Vibe.

Here is what Booster Gold looks like:

Step 4: Making the Tracks for Marbles

While the base was drying, we took up a few more cardboard sheets and cut them down to strips of 6cm width using a cutting mat, ruler, and Craft Blade. After we had plenty of those, it was time to fold them from top and bottom.

Now, there is a neat trick to fold the tracks. Simply measure 0.5 cm from top and bottom and make cuts along it using a craft blade.

These cuts should be at some distance from each other as shown in the image and because this is perforated cardboard, it shouldn't be difficult to make these cuts.

After making the cuts, simply bend the cardboard as shown in the image at right angles.

Step 5: Pasting the Tracks on Base

In this step, we will be pasting the tracks on the base.

To paste the tracks, simply apply hot glue on one side and paste it.

We can cut the strips according to the requirement of size and can make as the tracks as crazy as possible. Since we had to try out this challenge ourselves before it could be introduced in the class, we left it to be really simple and minimalistic.

In ideal situations, let students go wild with their imagination and use other materials apart from cardboard to build the tracks as different materials will generate different amount of friction.

Step 6: Bent Tracks and Fortifying of the Tracks

We can fortify the track by using small strips and staple different tracks together as shown in the image. Also, a bent track can be made by using a stapler as well. Simply bend the cardboard and staple the edges near the bend together.

Step 7: Time for Final Test

Once we were done pasting the tracks on base, we simply put a marble on top of the Marble Run and timed it to see if it completes the entire run in 60 seconds.

In our case, the first time was 55 seconds, so we added a strip of foam in one of the tracks and that brought down the speed of our marble making the run-time a perfect 60.001.

Complete the track and use a stopwatch to observe the time taken by marble to travel from top to bottom. If the time is less than 1 minute, we can also place sandpaper in one of the tracks, or a rubber sheet to slow down the marble accordingly. And if it is more than 1 minute, we can increase the traveling speed by tilting the angles of tracks or placing a slippery Polyester sheet in some of the tracks.

We hope you like this instructable. We have participated in the STEM Contest. Please vote for us, it will help us in winning some tools for our lab. Also, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop a comment below. We will surely revert!!


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