Build Your Own Marble Machine

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In this activity, learners will build a ball run contraption. Marble Machines are made from familiar materials, designed to send a rolling marble through tubes and funnels, across tracks and bumpers, and into a catch at the end. The larger the variety of materials available, the more creative innovation is possible! This activity works well as an individual activity, or in groups of two.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2-foot x 4-foot (61 cm x 122 cm) sheets of pegboard with 1/4-inch (.6 cm) holes (two pegboards per board)
  • 4-foot (122 cm) pieces of 1.5-inch x 1.5-inch pine (3.8 cm x 3.8 cm) (two long spacers per board)
  • 21-inch (53 cm) pieces of 1.5-inch x 1.5-inch pine (3.8 cm x 3.8 cm) (two short spacers per board)
  • wood glue
  • finishing nails
  • hammer
  • 20-inch (51cm) pieces of 1-inch x 6-inch (2.5cm x 15.2 cm) pine, for the feet (two feet per board)
  • 4 screws
  • screwdriver
  • Cut and sand 1/4-inch (.6 cm) dowels into 5-inch (13 cm) pieces
  • Cut 12-inch (30 cm) sections of cove molding
  • Cut 4-inch (10 cm) sections of cove molding
  • Cut 3-inch (7.6 cm) pieces of pine
  • assorted lengths of copper pipe, electrical conduit, or PVC
  • assortment of fittings to fit the pipes
  • funnels (2 per board)
  • marbles (4 per board)
  • masking tape (1 roll per board)
  • clothespins (6 per board)
  • cans, cups, strawberry baskets, or other things to catch the marble at the end of the run (1 per board)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, ESI-0452567