What’s a marble run? In our classroom, it’s a team building activity that uses collaboration to explore and solve a STEAM-related challenge.
The Challenge: Students were divided into groups of 3s to create a marble track using a given set of materials and have the marble land in a taped off 8 inch square and stay there. Points will be given for the length of the track, whether or not the marble traveled the entire length of the track, and if the marble stayed in the designated square.
Materials: 1 piece of card stock, 3 straws, 1 piece of string, 3 sheets of paper, 5 mailing labels, 4 paper clips, 3 rubber bands, and 2 pencils.
Process: The teams was given a 2 minute brainstorming session. They were allowed to talk and sketch out any plans or ideas they had for constructing the track. After which, they were given 20 minutes to construct their tracks. Each team received a marble in the last 5 minutes of the building time to test their track and make adjustments, if needed. When the timer went off, we watched as each team got to run the marble along their track for scoring.
Observation: As the teams worked on constructing their tracks, I walked around and listened in on their ideas and discussed what they were doing. Some teams worked well together from the start, some learned along the way that everyone has something valuable to add to the project, other teams disagreed along the way.
Reflection: After the activity, we gather together on the carpet to discuss the activity. In their reflections, students were asked to list what they learned from the activity. They said that they learned:
- How to build things and have fun
- How to get another with each other
- How to work together in groups
- From their mistakes – how to work better as a group
- To deal with pressure and being timed
- The science of a falling objects
I was really proud the ideas they shared during the reflection process. I was also surprised that no one asked about their points or who won. They genuinely had fun working and creating together. They were even really good about complimenting other teams on their creations, regardless of how the final products came out.
As mentioned in a previous post, community-building activities are important in our classrooms. It begins the first week of school and continues throughout the entire school year.