Wooden or plastic marble runs are sold by toy and craft retailers, but you can make your own homemade marble run using materials and equipment found in your garage, under your kitchen sink or salvaged from your dustbin. As the PIE Institute points out in its "Kinetic Contraptions" booklet, marble runs operate based on gravity and basic kinetics. Because of this, you really only have to take a few principles into consideration. First, keep the marble's path moving from a high point to a lower point. Second, don't put anything in the marble's path that its weight and momentum can't overcome.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Toilet paper rolls
- Paper towel rolls
- Cardboard strips
- PVC pipes, including corner joints and u-bends
- Funnels, paper cups other containers
Set up your pegboard as the foundation and backdrop for your marble run. You can brace it against a wall, couch or box as long as you keep it vertical while it is being used. One benefit of using a pegboard as the base is that you can mount it on a wall for easy storage while the marble run isn't in use.
Gather the materials you want to use for constructing the marble's path. You can make the entire marble run out of cardboard and tape, for instance, which might be items that you have on hand. Toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls and strips of cardboard are easy to find and replace. PVC will give you options that will be even more malleable and enduring, though, because you can plan turns, curves, bends and drops without worrying about the deterioration of the tunnels.
Lay out your pieces on the pegboard to plan the path. Remember that you'll want the pieces to be diagonal or vertical when they are in place. Horizontal elements will slow down or stop the marble's momentum.
Attach pieces to the board and to each other using tape, wire and wooden pegs. Different fixative materials will work better on each element, so test each piece as you put it in place.
Test the entire run once you think you have it set up. Part of the fun of a homemade marble run is making it, so don't be disappointed if your marbles go astray at first. Just look at the materials you've acquired and brainstorm a solution.
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