Make an out-of-this-world marble run using household items! This craft project is both a fun toy as well as a great hands-on lesson in physics.

Materials:

  • cereal box
  • aluminum foil
  • scissors
  • 3 toilet paper rolls
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • felt
  • paint and a paintbrush
  • pipe cleaners

Instructions

    1. gal-marble-longCut a large rectangular opening in one side of an empty cereal box. You should leave about 1/4 inch of cardboard around the edges to make the opening nice and wide.

    2. Cut a piece of felt to size and glue it to the back of the cereal box.

    3. Cover the outside of the box in aluminum foil. This step takes your box from ordinary to galactic! (You can skip this and other decorative steps if you just want to build the run.)

    4. Cover the first toilet paper roll in aluminum foil.

    5. Glue the aluminum foil-covered roll onto the top section of the back of the box and angle it sharply facing downwards. You should slope it at least 45 degrees. This will be the entry point for the run.

    6. Cut the center of the second toilet paper roll, in half, lengthwise. Paint the roll on the inside and out. We painted our second paper roll black with tiny orange stars. If you choose to paint your roll, be sure to allow the paint to dry completely before the next step.

    7. Once the paint is dry, glue the second paper roll onto the marble run with the opening facing upwards. Make sure the roll is angled 45 degrees, sloping downwards. The top of the angle should almost touch the first tube. Pro Tip: before gluing the 2nd roll on, practice shooting a few marbles through, mark your position when the marbles shoot through correctly and then apply the glue.

    8. Paint your third paper roll and allow the paint to dry.

    9. Cut a semi-circle shape out of the end of the third paper roll. Glue the third paper roll, angling it downwards with the curved opening greeting the end opening of the second tube. Use the same "Pro Tip" mentioned earlier to ensure proper positioning before glueing it on. Lastly, glue the curved, semicircle piece you cut-out to the end of the 3rd tube. This will help direct the marbles as they run down the shoot.

    If you want, you can make fun celestial shapes out of pipe cleaners and decorate your galactic marble run once you are finished gluing on the paper rolls! When your craft is dry and ready to use, discuss why the marbles are sliding down the tubes. What makes them shoot from tube to tube? Why do some land in different places at the end? Why do they run through the shoot so fast?

Caroline Gravino Urdaneta, a PBS Parents resident crafter, is a designer of creative family projects, tinkering painter and mother of four children. She writes about project ideas for the whole family and how to encourage creativity in kids on the popular blog, Salsa Pie and shares videos on the PBS Parents YouTube Channel. Subscribe HERE.

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