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Marvelous Marble Ramp

While a child's imagination is a powerful tool on it's own, by providing them with a greater understanding of why things work the way they do, you can help them further explore their own inventive possibilities. Get them started with Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why) by Jill Frankel Hauser. Gizmos & Gadgets teaches kids to put science to work; explore the hows and whys of energy and motion; think like an inventor; and meet the inventors of some of their favorite toys and gadgets. The Marvelous Marble Ramp activity has been reproduced here with permission from Williamson Publishing.

Let's Build It!
Create an incredible path for a marble; then, set the orb in motion. What pulls the marble from the top of the ramp to the bottom? Good old gravity!

Here's a chance to really let your inventive imagination run wild! Design a pathway for a marble to follow that wraps around a box base. The ramps can hang on the outside of the box or be suspended inside. Cut corner sections from cereal or cracker boxes and use paper-towel tubes cut in half horizontally for your chutes and ramps. Add your own bells and drops and gaps. Then, tape it all in place and set the ball rolling!

Tools & Supplies

      • Large cardboard box
      • Empty cereal and cracker boxes
      • Paper-towel tubes
      • Tape
      • Scissors
      • Marble
      • Bells, cans, and other recyclables


Marvelous Marble Ramp

How'd That Happen?
Drop a marble, and all of the gravity's force pulls in one directino, directly down. But set a marble on a ramp, and gravity's force is divided. Gravity works to speed the marble down the ramp, while it also works to hold the marble against the ramp's surface. The steeper the ramp, the greater the speeding force, and the weaker the holding force.

© 1999 Williamson Publishing

For more gizmos, gadgets, gears, and inventive ideas, try:

Software for Ages 5 - 10 yrs.
Rose Studios, Inc., $29.95

Hands-on Science: Get In Gear
Doing & Learning/Book for Ages 6 & Up
By Sholly Fisch, Illustrated by Mark Oliver
Innovative Kids, $19.99

Gears! Gears! Gears! Gizmos
Book for Ages 7 & Up
Learning Resources, Inc. $29.99

Gears! Gears! Gears! Oogly Googly Motorized Building Set
Toys for Ages 7 & Up
Learning Resources, Inc., $32.95

The Incredible Machine: Contraptions
Software for Ages 8 & Up
Sierra On-Line, $29.95

Imagine the Possibilities
A tribute to celebrated visionaries.

The Undiscovered Obvious

Free your mind of preconceptions of what toys should look like; think of how children play. Then head for the nearest supermarket, an old-fashioned five and dime, or even the hardware store.

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