Science Series: Let’s Make a Marble Run!

Marble runs are a fun and engaging way for school-aged children to learn about simple machines, physics, and engineering. Building their own marble run, can help children to develop a range of skills including critical thinking skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. 

As a professional nanny, you can play an important role in facilitating this learning experience for the children in your care. In this blog post, we will explore some tips and strategies that nannies can use to help school-aged children make their own marble runs and learn about simple engineering and machines.


What are Simple Machines?

Before we delve into the specifics of building a marble run, it’s important to have a basic understanding of simple machines. Simple machines are devices that make work easier by changing the direction or magnitude of a force. 

There are six types of simple machines: the lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, and screw. By understanding how these simple machines work, children can gain a deeper appreciation for the world around them and develop foundational knowledge in physics and engineering. They can also incorporate some of these simple machines, and their principles, into the marble run that they construct.

Marble run

Tips and Strategies for Building a Marble Run

Building a marble run can be a fun and rewarding experience for school-aged children, but it can also be complex and challenging. As a nanny, you can play a crucial role in guiding children through this process by providing support, encouragement, and opportunities for learning. Below are some tips and strategies that can help you facilitate this learning experience:

Start with the basics

When introducing children to the concept of marble runs, it’s important to start with the basics. You can begin by explaining the different types of simple machines and how they work, and then demonstrate how these machines can be used to create a marble run. You might like to use visual aids, such as diagrams or videos, to help children understand these concepts.

Encourage creativity

Marble runs can be built using a wide range of materials, from cardboard tubes to PVC pipes to wooden blocks, as well as specialised sets that you can buy for this specific purpose. Nannies and caregivers can encourage children to use their creativity and imagination when designing their marble runs, and provide them with a variety of materials to choose from. This can help children develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.

Provide guidance and support

Building a marble run can be a complex and challenging task, particularly for younger children. As a nanny, you can provide guidance and support to help children overcome obstacles and solve problems. Encourage children to work through challenges on their own, but be prepared to offer guidance and support as needed.

Emphasise safety

When building a marble run, it’s important to emphasise safety. Make sure children understand the importance of wearing safety goggles and gloves if they are cutting wood or using tools. Additionally, you can make sure the marble run is stable and secure, and that children are supervised at all times.

Marble run

Benefits of Building a Marble Run

Building a marble run can have numerous benefits for school-aged children, both in the short term and the long term. Below are some of the key benefits of this activity:

Develops critical thinking skills

Building a marble run requires children to think critically and solve problems. They must consider the laws of physics, engineering principles, and the properties of different materials when designing their marble run. This can help them to develop critical thinking skills that can benefit them in other areas.

Fosters creativity

By designing their own marble runs, children can experiment with different materials, shapes, and designs, and create something unique and original.

Promotes teamwork

Building a marble run can be a collaborative effort, requiring children to work together to solve problems and achieve their goals. 

Enhances problem-solving abilities

Building a marble run requires children to overcome obstacles and solve problems, deciding what to do when something doesn’t work, and what they should try next. This can also help children to build their resilience and perseverance. 

Marble run

With a renewed focus on helping children to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills, building a marble run is a fun and engaging way for school-aged children to learn about simple machines, physics, and engineering. 

As a professional nanny, you can use this activity to support children in developing STEM skills which can be transferred into other areas of their learning, development and life. To find out more about supporting children’s education through playful activities such as this, check out our Integrating Education into Childcare course.

International Nanny Institute