Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Designing Paper Marble Runs

We put out a number of paper tubes and masking tape for the children and invited them to tape the tubes to the wall and create their own paper marble runs. Their ideas were amazing! We provided very little adult help and instead encouraged children to create a plan for how they wanted their marble runs to work. It was so interesting to watch and listen to them engage in rich conversations about the marble run's design; when a problem arose they engaged in detailed problem solving to figure out how to make the run work better.

Their designs started out small...




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As the children experimented, their designs got more complex. In the following picture you can see that they have added a large funnel to help catch the marble as it falls from the tube into another.




The children kept their marble run taped to the wall for the entire day. By the end of our second playtime, they had created a very complicated structure.

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Once the children were happy with their design, they began to use the run for different challenges. Each child chose a different marble and the children raced them to see which would finish the run first.  In the following video you'll see that the children set up tubes at the bottom of the marble run. They wanted the tubes to be knocked down by the marble when it finished the run.

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