Rollin’ Rollin' Rollin'

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In this physics activity (page 12 of the PDF), learners explore potential and kinetic energy by rolling different sized marbles down an inclined plane. Learners compare the amount of work done by each marble by measuring how far the marble moves a milk carton. Although this was created as a post-visit activity for a workshop about the physics of roller coasters, it also makes an excellent stand-alone activity. The activity can be extended by having learners try other round objects such as a high bounce ball, a grape, or a softball.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • three (3) marbles of different sizes
  • ruler
  • inclined plane
  • milk carton


  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
      • Projectile Motion
      • Newton's Laws
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Student Workshops