A Marble Machine is a creative ball-run contraption, made from familiar materials, designed to send a rolling marble through tubes and funnels, across tracks and bumpers, and into a catch at the end.
We often suggest a goal of getting the marble to travel from the top of the board to a target at the bottom as slowly as possible. But that’s only one possible starting point for what can quickly turn into an addictive experience.
You can set many challenges for yourself, the fun is in trying to solve them: make the marble travel uphill for a section, or go up and then come back down; try to make a loop-de-loop, or an elevator to bring the marble back to the top of the board; or even use multiple marbles for more complex chain-reactions.
Diverse Solutions to a Shared Theme
There are several different, individual solutions and creative designs. No two Marble Machines look alike.
Sharing each completed Marble Machine at the end of the activity is a good way for participants to contribute to the group’s understanding of the activity.
What are the qualities that we value in this activity?
Reusable Materials and Components
This activity utilizes a set of materials that can be used again and again, by a variety of participants, in a variety of ways.
Creative Ways to Express Understanding
Thinking is made visible through the construction and adjustments made to the individual Marble Machines. New challenges and questions arise throughout this process.
“Tinkering is about pushing the boundaries of what you think is possible for yourself. It’s about growing.” – Lianna Kali
We are passionate about sharing our work and developing a community of people interested in these activities, practices, and ideas. The guides below are free to download and use to help you get started with tinkering, whether it's at home, or in your school or educational institution.