MARBLE TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
A Not-for-profit program for students, scouts, campers, homeshcoolers , etc. to exhibit and participate competitively to recognize ingenuity and an interest in science and engineering (STEM).
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Tinker Trax in MakerSpaces
I am convinced, after working with 100's of students over the past 18 months, MakerSpaces, a time and place at home, in schools, libraries, homeschools, etc., where the target learning objective is to unleash a student's God-given likeness, to be a maker, are the best place I have found to introduce Tinker Trax.

Tinker Trax challenges in MakerSpaces foster creativity, originality, ingenuity or whatever you want to call that skill-set that our planet desperately needs right now.




 

Building a marble track is ideal for inspiring youth to pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, but there must be a shift from transferring knowledge to coming along side the students, coaching, cheering and probing for best ideas.

 
The genius behind the Marble Trax design is with the exception of the track spacers, students can construct a marble track as long and as complex as you like, from common, hardware store materials. Drawings for the track spacers, which hold the track rails in places, can be downloaded from www.thingiverse.com and laser cut at a Fab Shop or MakerSpace.

10-Pack Track Spacers are only $10.00. Click to order.To purchase the Marble Trax kit or the book, Make It All About Marbles, with your credit card click on this secure link:


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Marble Trax Kits are also a great way demonstrate Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion and conduct dozens other physical science experiments.




Everything you need to make 100's of marble run designs.

A year in the making. Open ended; the sky's the limit!



Once you've mastered track building, you can buy everything you need, with the exception of the laser-cut Track Spacer, at your local hardware store.


Three Important Phases of Marble Trax Making

MakerSpaces are about discovery and making useful stuff, but without some guidance and instruction students will probably flounder. Case in point, you wouldn’t hand a student a power tool without some instruction!

When introducing Tinker Trax I  have found you should recognize and follow three progressive phases.

Phase One  Build confidence in using the Marble Trax materials.

  • Assemble Session. Include students in the assemble stage of threading the wire, assembling the spacers etc. Early-elementary age students may need to learn how to screw a nut and bolt together or bend instead of mangle wire-tubing.
  • Demonstration Time. Create and demonstrating a simple marble track showing how the pieces fit together and how to keep the marble on the track – keeping track rails running perfectly paralleled and level.
  • Messing Around. Let students “mess around” with the Marble Trax materials, providing plenty of time (several sessions) and material for students to experiment with making a simple straight-away track together. 

Phase Two –Challenge students to constructing a track with a defined purpose and an undefined outcome.  Here are three “themes” that work very well.

  • Straightaway Challenges. (#1) Make a straight track with a slope that causes the marble to hit a target (dominoes or small figures) at the end of the track or (#2) lands in a square beyond the track.  (#3) Make a dual, side-by-side  straight-away race tracks with hills and maybe  measure the speed of the marbles. The key is encouraging student to figure out what works and why something doesn’t, asking “What Questions”.
  • Corner Turn Challenges.  Make a track with (#1) a U-Turn or (#2) an S-Curve,  or (#3) a Circle or Spiral-; a track that carries a marble down a slope, traveling 360 degrees around a circular path and straight ahead again.
  • Going Vertical Challenges.  Make a track with a jump ramp at the end that launches a marble into a cup, measuring flight length or (#2) a Half Pipe or (#3) a Loop-de-loop.

Phase Three – Open-ended, skies-the-limit, Challenges.

  • Sculptures. (#1) Make a more permanent marble track model, called a sculpture, that can be exhibited to a larger audience-a school assemble or science fair.
  • Free Form. (#2) Challenge teams to build their own marble track model incorporating as many features as possible.
  • Contest.  (#3) Make it a contest: Talley points for each track features (1 point for each curve or hill,            2 points for a jump or U-turn, 3  points for a spiral, a circle, a loop-de-loop or jump to another track). A marble must successfully complete the course 3 times.



10-Pack Track Spacers are only $10.00. Click to order.
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