|Project by Jack McKee||posted 03-07-2017 06:22 PM||1171 views||11 times favorited||10 comments|
THE MARBLE ROLL
When I was teaching children’s carpentry and science and a friend lent me a small wooden marble roll to use in class. It consisted of two upright 1 X 4’s connected by sloping, grooved troughs. The marbles rolled down the troughs, reversing direction in a zigzag fashion, to the bottom. The kids loved it! They would roll one marble down by itself, then two or three, then a whole handful. Over and over and over again. They used it so much it began to bother me. What could they possibly be learning?
Here is a video. Its 6 minutes but not necessary to see the whole thing, you get the idea from the first minute. It is totally unedited; kids are engaged the whole time. I just held the camera.
Another friend mentioned that the Museum of Science and industry in Vancouver, B.C. hand a giant velcro ball roll. I went to take a look and discovered a large wall covered with velcro. Beside the wall was a box of small troughs made from plastic plumbing pipe split lengthwise. Each trough was fastened to a velcro backed L-bracket. The troughs could then be placed anywhere on the velcro wall. By moving the troughs around, an infinite number of paths could be made. Children could design and then build their own marble roll.
I made a scaled down version with a 3’ X 5’ sheet of velcro. It worked fine at first but gradually the velcro sheet wore out and the troughs would fall off. What about using magnets instead of velcro? I replaced the big velcro sheet with a piece of sheet metal and the velcro on the back of the troughs with sheet magnet. This worked great and still works after 15 years.
This project was so popular kids in my woodworking class wanted to make a marble roll of there own and here are a couple results:
Children learn from what the adults around them do. If adults make things then children learn interesting, useful and even sometimes beautiful things can be made by people, not just purchased. The Magnetic marble roll is such a project. Kids can help with construction sanding, drilling holes, and fastening the troughs to the backing boards. Best of all, from an adults point of view, once finished, the marble roll requires practically no supervision. You will not believe how much fun and learning take place. My admittedly biased opinion is that every school and children’s museum should have a magnetic marble roll.
You can probably build this from just looking at the picture, but if you want a materials list and brief building plans they are available (free) here:
Here are two important tricks: 1) Use the medium strength magnet sheet, not the thin stuff, which won’t be strong enough. One source for magnetic sheet is The Magnet King, online. 2) Don’t use marbles or the kids will be running all over the room chasing them. Use mini Kiosh balls, available from the Oriental Trading company.
-- Jack, Bellingham, WA