Get Those Marbles Rolling!

This math project is called Get Those Marbles Rolling. This project gives children an opportunity to use mathematics in the context of scientific research. During this project students make cardboard ramp of different kinds to investigate some of the some of the factors that cause marbles to roll farther and faster. Along the way, they measure distance their marble rolls as their change the ramp heights, the ramp lengths, and marble masses. Finally, the students apply the understandings they’ve gained through informal and formal experiments and revisit their data to plan and build mega-marble rolls – pathways designed to get the marbles to do a series of specific tasks such as turn, jump, stop, knock down targets and much more.

Halfway through this project rollways and ramps were sprouting from chairs, shelves, tables and anything that can be attached to with masking tape. Students gather in discussion circles to reflect on data from previous days and plan and sketch designs. Together and through experimentation students discover important information about height, length, angles, mass, friction, averages, design, collaboration and teamwork.


Some children planning their ramps.


Second graders planning how to build a rollway where the marble or ball will go a short distance.

"What if we used a bouncy ball instead of a marble?"

"Yeah!  It goes slower because of the friction."

"I think it should go down the rollway like this."




Second graders building a ramp.


Second graders using their knowledge of speed and mass to build a rollway that goes downhill,
then uphill and finally hits a target.

"We need something to make it stable."






Students work on making ramp to get ball to travel 4 feet.


Second graders using their knowledge of angles and speed to create rollway where the marble will travel
at least 4 feet.

"Does this look like our sketch?"

"If we put end it here, the marble will drop onto the floor.  I don’t think it will go as far then."






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