Try This at Home:

Marble-ous Mazes

How do you roll?

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard lid (like from a shoe box)
  • Chenille stems or bendy straws
  • Construction paper (optional)
  • Markers (optional)
  • Beads, small toys, cardboard tubes, etc. (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • Marbles or small balls

Here’s what to do:

 

  1. If you don’t have a lid to use, ask an adult to help cut cardboard pieces you can tape to a flat piece of cardboard to make walls.
  2. Place a piece of paper in your lid and trace the inside shape of your lid. Now you know how big your maze can be. Draw your maze design on the paper before you start building. How hard do you want your maze to be? Do you want to have any dead ends? Do you want there to be more than one path to the finish?
  3. Ask an adult to help cut chenille stems or straws to the right size to make your maze walls.
  4. Attach your maze walls using tape or glue following your maze design. Ask an adult for help with hot glue. Allow the glue to dry.
  5. Test your maze with a marble. Does it work like you expected? If not, what do you want to change?

Try This at Home MazeTry This at Home Maze

Take it further:Try this at home maze

  • How many ways are there to solve your maze? Have a friend try to solve your marble maze! How long does it take them?
  • If you want to make your maze harder, try adding obstacles like paper tunnels and ramps or obstacles to go around like beads or small toys. Do any of your obstacles block the path to the finish? Ensure your maze can still be completed by testing it yourself. Then challenge a friend. 
  • Try doing your maze from the end to the beginning. Does it seem harder? 
  • Try doing your maze with your eyes closed. Can you complete it? How do you know what to do? What other senses do you need to use?

What’s going on?

Before your marble starts rolling through your maze, it has potential energy. When your marble starts to roll, the potential energy becomes kinetic (or motion) energy. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. This means the amount of energy your marble has is constant, but it can change from potential to kinetic or other forms of energy. 

How do you keep the marble moving through your maze? You probably need to tilt your maze which creates inclines so gravity can pull your marble in a certain direction. Gravity is always pulling down on the marble, but you see its effect when the surface the marble is on is no longer level with the ground. Along with the force of gravity, friction also affects your marble as it travels. Friction occurs anytime two objects rub against each other. Friction slows your marble down because some of the kinetic energy is converted to heat energy. Try rubbing your hands together. Do you feel them start to get warmer? That’s because of friction! Rougher surfaces cause more friction. What could you cover the bottom of your maze with to cause more friction and slow your marble down?

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