What you need:
- Recycled materials, LEGO bricks, or something to use as obstacle walls.
- Marble or small ball.
- Use recycled materials to create an obstacle course for the marble to travel through.
- The course should have two sides that would trap the marble inside throughout the course.
- Create a start and finish point for the course.
- Set the marble at the beginning of the course.
- Without touching the marble, blow into the straw which will push the wind you create through the straw to move the marble throughout the course.
Ways to expand:
- Create dead ends in your course to make it more difficult.
- Make it competition! Have more than one marble racer at a time.
- Build more than one entry and exit point.
- Have one person give directions to the one controlling the marble.
- Add in hills and different terrains within the course.
- Have someone else create the course and then try to conquer it as quickly as possible without planning.
What kids learn:
- Basic engineering skills. Engineers solve problems with constraints. They learn to solve problems by using the engineering design process: asking questions, coming up with solutions, building, testing and improving.
- Creative problem solving. There are multiple issues that will need to be solved. Kids will constantly need to test the force and direction of the air hitting the marble, and figure out the directions needed to escape the course.
- Air flow. Kids will test the direction and force needed to make the marble go where they need it to go.
- Social and emotional skills. Taking turns is an important skill to learn and practice throughout life.
- Experimentation! When kids experiment, they're learning how to learn. Failure is an important part of experimenting, so let kids try things that won’t work. It’s how they figure things out!
- Hand eye coordination. Young children can use activities to help improve communication between their minds and bodies.
- Constraint. A limitation or restriction. Materials, time, and space are common constraints. Real engineers have to work around constraints all the time!
- Air pressure. The weight of air molecules. Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.
- Force. Energy caused by a push, pull, or gravity.
- Push. An action when you move something away from your body or an object.