Marble Run!

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This activity (on page 2 of the PDF under SciGirls Activity: Luge) is a full inquiry-based challenge related to motion and design optimization. Groups of learners will use construction paper to build a model bobsled run for a marble to follow down a ramp. They are then challenged to get the marble down the ramp in a time of 12 seconds, continuing to modify and re-test their run until they reach this goal. Learners can track their progress by creating a bar chart that shows the speed of each design version. This is a great activity for developing team-building skills. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Luge.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • a plank or shelf, 12-16 inches wide and 4 feet long
  • books to prop up the plank
  • construction paper
  • tape
  • a marble
  • a stopwatch or timer


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Sports and Exercise
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Highlights STEM opportunities for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 436260