The Kid Should See This

Marble Run Challenge: Build a design that takes exactly 60 seconds

Watch more with these video collections:

Marble runs make fun toys and engaging science museum activities, but they can also be made from scratch with simple materials. In the video above, mechanical engineer Dr. Shini Somara sets up an engineering challenge: Make a run that takes 60 seconds from start to finishβ€”no more, no less. Use paper, cardboard, or any other materials you have around, as long as the marble takes exactly one minute to complete the track.

How can this be done? Somara talks with Dyson engineers about three tracks equipped with different materials, ramp angles, and components that can affect marble speeds.

“To race marbles,” Somara explains, “you need some kind of slide or run like a water chute or a waterslide.”

ramps and friction

“All these slides and runs use gravity while trying to keep friction to a minimum. Friction is a force between two surfaces that causes a moving object to slow down, like a brake on a bicycle. The amount of friction changes depending on the materials from which the two surfaces are made.”

a simple cardboard marble run
And that friction can also strategically s l o w your marble to meet the 60 second run goal. Notice the ramp shapes, shallow angles, sand paper, tube textures, and funnels that can help control the marble’s speed.

This video is one in a 2016 engineering challenge series from The James Dyson Foundation. Find 44 classic engineering and science activities for at home or in the classroom in this handy Challenge Cards pdf.

supplies to make your marble run
Watch more engineering videos and projects, including:
β€’ Andrew Gatt’s Ultimate Paper Roller Coaster
β€’Β Red Ball Adventure, a chain reaction marble track on a pegboard wall
β€’ Pythagora Equipment Academy: Rube Goldberg mini-mechanism tutorials
β€’Β How to make a steel track marble run, a step-by-step guide
β€’ The Blue Marble, an uninterrupted catapult-filled magnet marble run
β€’Β Which marble will win the Longest Sand Marble Run Ever?

Plus: Find more activities and more from Shini Somara in the archives.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Wood Marble Machines with interchangeable parts

Rion Nakaya

Wintergatan’s Marble Conveyor Belt musical marble machine v2

Rion Nakaya

Which marble will win the Longest Sand Marble Run Ever?

Rion Nakaya

Turing Tumble, a DIY mechanical computer powered by marbles

Rion Nakaya

The Wintergatan Marble Machine, music made from 2,000 marbles

Rion Nakaya

The Blue Marble, an uninterrupted catapult-filled magnet marble run

Rion Nakaya

The Archimedes Marble Rollercoaster

Rion Nakaya

Synchronized Screen Juggling with DoodleChaos

Rion Nakaya

Steel track rolling ball sculptures by kinetic artist Tom Harold

Rion Nakaya

Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.