CODE/MOE/UOIT Makerspaces Project

Grade 3 Science: Understanding Matter and Energy:

 Forces Causing Movement


  • Forces cause objects to speed up, slow down, or change direction through direct contact or through interaction at a distance.
  • To develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry and technological problem solving

Curriculum Expectations:

Overall Expectation

  • to investigate devices that use forces to create controlled movement

Specific Expectations

  • 2.4 use technological problem-solving skills, and knowledge acquired from previous investigations, to design and build devices that uses forces to create controlled movement
  • 3.4 Explain how forces are exerted through direct contact or through interaction at a distance

Learning Goals:

“We are learning to…

  • create a track for a marble to travel as slowly as possible by controlling the movement of the marble.
  • Work collaboratively in a group.”

Success Criteria:  

“We will be successful when…

  • the marble is released from the top of the peg board and makes it to the bottom as slowly as possible.
  • the marble reaches the bottom of the peg board to trigger Dash to make a sound which is when the timer stops for the Marble Run”.  

Lesson Overview: In this lesson students will use a peg board and a selection of familiar materials, designed to send a rolling marble through tubes and funnels, across tracks and bumpers into a catch at the end that will trigger Dash to respond with a sound or a celebration upon completion of the Marble Run.

Possible Writing Extension – create a theme for the journey of the marble and write an adventure story about the travels that the marble goes through to get to the bottom. 

Materials and Technology:  

  • peg board
  • cove moulding pieces
  • dowel pegs
  • found materials (e.g., funnels, tubes, etc.)
  • fasteners (e.g., tape, pegs, etc.)
  • marble
  • Dash

Student Accommodations/Modifications:  

  • Students will be provided with peer support in their groups
  • Verbal prompting provided to students who are not frequently testing their designs to encourage planning, designing, and testing and re-testing.

Lesson will be differentiated by:

  • Process, specifically: if students are having difficulty getting started they may want to watch a video that shows them a finished marble run in order to get some ideas.
  • Environment, specifically: The proximity that the groups are working can be manipulated; the closer that groups are working encourages the sharing of ideas and the physical layout of space may help to spread design solutions from one group to another.  

MINDS ON:  Getting Started

During this phase, the teacher may:

• activate students’ prior knowledge;

• engage students by posing thought-provoking questions;

• gather diagnostic and/or formative assessment data through observation and questioning;

• discuss and clarify the task(s).

During this phase, students may:

• participate in discussions;

• propose strategies;

• question the teacher and their classmates;

• make connections to and reflect on prior learning.

Describe how you will introduce the learning activity to your students. What key questions will you ask? How will you gather diagnostic or formative data about the students’ current levels of understanding? How will students be grouped? How will materials be distributed?

Review the two indirect forces discussed previously (i.e., magnetism and static electricity). Explain to students that they are going to investigate the third indirect force, called gravitational force.

Hold a ball in the air, and ask students:

  • What will happen if I let go of this ball?
  • Why will it fall?

Tell students that they will have an opportunity to see the effects of gravity, using a ramp.

Play the video below called Defining Gravity (play all or just play parts of the video. Total length about 15 minutes)

Lead a class discussion after the video to discuss the gravity’s pull towards Earth. 

ACTION:  Working on it

During this phase, the teacher may:

• ask probing questions;

• clarify misconceptions, as needed, by redirecting students through questioning;

• answer students’ questions (but avoid providing a solution to the problem);

• observe and assess;

• encourage students to represent their thinking concretely and/or pictorially;

• encourage students to clarify ideas and to pose questions to other students.

During this phase, students may:

• represent their thinking (using numbers, pictures, words, manipulatives, actions, etc.);

• participate actively in whole group, small group, or independent settings;

• explain their thinking to the teacher and their classmates;

• explore and develop strategies and concepts.

Describe the task(s) in which your students will be engaged. What misconceptions or difficulties do you think they might experience? How will they demonstrate their understanding of the concept? How will you gather your assessment data (e.g., checklist, anecdotal records)? What extension activities will you provide?

Task Students will be engaged in:

  • Students will be engaged in the design process of a Marble Run. In groups of 3 students will initiate and plan the materials and design for their marble run. They will draw a draw their plan and label their drawing. They will compile a list of materials to start the building of the marble run.
  • Students will be involved in solving problems as they test possible design solutions. They will be encouraged to test their runs early and often when designing and focus on getting the marble to the bottom of the peg board as quickly as possible. The feedback students receive from the tests they do will inform new directions and ideas as they put their Marble Runs together.
  • The final part of their design will be programming Dash to respond with a sound or celebration to signal the end of the Marble Run.  
  • The teacher will be acting as a facilitator during the Action phase of this lesson. Focus on asking students to show you how their Marble Run works. This will give teachers insight into their process and intentions and can be recorded as anecdotal observations.

Assessment Data Gathering

Students will demonstrate their understanding of the design process from beginning to proficient. Anecdotal observations will be recorded and then evaluated using a rubric.

Extension activities include providing challenges to try after building your first marble machine:

  • Try to make the marble go uphill
  • Can you build away from the board and then return to it?
  • Try to create a marble elevator

CONSOLIDATION:  Reflecting and Connecting

During this phase, the teacher may:

• bring students back together to share and analyse strategies;

• encourage students to explain a variety of learning strategies;

• ask students to defend their procedures and justify their answers;

• clarify misunderstandings;

• relate strategies and solutions to similar types of problems in order to help students generalize concepts;

• summarize the discussion and emphasize key points or concepts.

During this phase, students may:

• share their findings;

• use a variety of concrete, pictorial, and numerical representations to demonstrate their understandings;

• justify and explain their thinking;

• reflect on their learning.

How will you select the individual students or groups of students who are to share their work with the class (i.e., to demonstrate a variety of strategies, to show different types of representations, to illustrate a key concept)? What key questions will you ask during the debriefing?

Each group of 3 will present their Marble Run for the class to see. They will be asked about the most challenging aspects of the design and anything that they’d like to change and why? Using the Analyzing and Interpreting rubric based on student responses.

St. Ambrose Catholic School—Huron Perth Catholic District School Board

Adapted from