Looking for an easy summer STEM idea for your active toddler or preschooler? Build a pool noodle marble run using your dollar store pool noodles!
This marble run was a lot fun and pool noodles are the perfect material to use to make it. Once cut into sections the center of the pool noodles is the exact diameter for marbles. It allows your little one to see the marbles running down which is very exciting to any toddler or preschooler! Use as many marbles as you can collect for added fun! This makes a great STEAM learning activity for kids. They can view gravity at work!
How to Set Up A Pool Noodle Marble Run
The first step in this activity is to cut your pool noodles. We actually used the pool noodles from another activity where we cut the noodles – Pool Noodle Racetrack. Take your pool noodle and cut it lengthwise on one side and then again along the opposite side. In the end, you should have two equal halves of the pool noodle.
Next, cut the halves into sections. You can cut them equally or make them different lengths in order to create some variety in your marble run. Use box cutters or scissors to do this as well. Or you can use the noodles halves whole to create a super long marble run!
Once you have your marble run sections its time to set up the marble run. I did this activity outside in the summer along my fence so I was able to use duct tape. I’ve tested duct tape on my fence before and it doesn’t not leave a mark or remove anything. Before using duct table test your surface, otherwise use painters tape or masking tape. This activity can easily be set up indoors using the pool noodles. Use painter’s tape if you are doing this indoors or if you don’t want to use duct tape.
Tape the pool noodle sections to the wall in a way that a marble will flow down. You’ll have to test the run with your little one to see which sections need fixing or adjusting. Once you have the marble run complete, let them marbles fly!
Don’t forget to add a basket or bowl at the bottom to collect the marbles, especially if you are using multiple marbles!
Science Behind Pool Noodle Marble Run
What’s happening? Let’s talk about it! The main STEAM learning opportunities with marbles run are gravity and friction and potential energy and kinetic energy.
Gravity is the force pulling the marble down the pool noodles. The steeper the slope the faster the marbles will roll. Friction is the force that slows objects down. As it reaches the bottom it hits the ground and rolls and eventually stops because of friction.
Potential energy is the energy that is stored up and ready to be released when the marble is dropped down the pool noodle.
Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Potential energy turns into kinetic energy as the marble flows down the pool noodles.