Pinball Wizard

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In this hands-on engineering project, kids use two simple machines, levers and inclined planes, to construct their own pinball machines. Using the engineering design process and easy-to-find materials like straws and cardboard, kids can create an endless variety of games.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Game

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • shoe box top
  • clear tape
  • scissors
  • 2 cups from an egg carton
  • straws
  • brass fastener (1/2 in or 3/4 in)
  • thin cardboard
  • marble
  • pencil
  • optional: small paper cups, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, markers, aluminum foil, odds & ends


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Games
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • WGBH

Source Collection

  • Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman


  • , WGBH Educational Foundation, 2010

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0840307
  • Public television viewers
  • Chuck E. Cheese's