Construct a Marble Maze Labyrinth
Shared by: Girlstart
Recommended Grades: 4th, 5th, 6th
The Challenge: Left, right, right, dead end! Construct a labyrinth from everyday materials. Explore different physics laws as you design a challenging maze game!
Share your creation on Flipgrid.
- Marker or pen
- Paper or Styrofoam plate
- 10-20 straws
- Take out your paper or Styrofoam plate. Use a pen or marker to draw out a design for your labyrinth (see next page for an example). Make sure to label a start and finish! Also, make sure that your marble will easily be able to fit through the paths that you sketch.
- Lay out straws along the lines of your labyrinth and use scissors to cut the straws to the correct lengths.
- Use tape to secure the straws in place until all of the "walls” of your labyrinth have been created.
- Now, place a marble at the starting point and test out your labyrinth. See if you can get the marble from start to finish just by tilting the plate. Challenge your family or friends to solve your labyrinth!
For a PDF version of the lesson, click on the following link: MARBLE MAZE
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Designing Fun: Theme Parks, Games, and Music?
The Labyrinth in Ancient Greece was built to house a monster called the Minotaur. The Labyrinth’s architect, Daedalus, made it nearly impossible to solve! Your labyrinth model is solvable, and it works because of a few different physics concepts. In physics, if an object causes change, it has energy. This energy can come in many different forms.
Stored energy is called potential energy. To store energy, work must be done, such as winding-up a spring, charging a battery, or, in this case, holding the marble just at the edge of your labyrinth. An object that has potential energy may release its stored energy to be transformed into other forms of energy. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Any object that has mass and is moving has kinetic energy. Once the marble is released into the labyrinth and begins rolling around, its potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy.
An important physics law is also demonstrated by your marble labyrinth. Newton’s Law of Conservation of Energy says that energy may be transformed from one kind to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. This means that each marble in the labyrinth has a total amount of energy. It changes between potential and kinetic but never disappears completely. Take some time to challenge your friends and family to see who can solve your labyrinth using the most kinetic energy!
Physicists study the natural world, from the tiniest subatomic particles to the largest galaxies. They do experiments to discover the laws of nature. They study what things are made of (matter) and how things behave. They also learn about energy, studying how it changes from one form to another.
Meet Jessica Esquivel!
Jessica Esquivel is a particle physicist and the second-ever Black woman to receive her physics Ph.D. from Syracuse University. She works at Fermilab, America’s particle physics and accelerator lab, on something called the Muon g-2 experiment. As part of this project, Esquivel works with the largest detectors in the country to search for new physics. Jessica was one of 125 women selected as an American Society for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN ambassador, a program that shows girls many different career pathways they can pursue. As a minority in multiple facets of the word, Esquivel has a very personal recognition of the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. When asked why equality, diversity, inclusion, and representation were so important to STEM, Jessica responded that “we need unique lenses and solutions from everyone.” In fact, Esquivel is quoted as saying: “My process in doing science is unique to me because of, not in spite of, my minoritized identities.”
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