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Elementary    |    Daily Do

How Can We Become Good Marble Players?

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How Can We Become Good Marble Players?

Crosscutting Concepts Disciplinary Core Ideas Is Lesson Plan NGSS Phenomena Physical Science Science and Engineering Practices Three-Dimensional Learning Elementary

Sensemaking Checklist

Welcome to NSTA's Daily Do

Teachers and families across the country are facing a new reality of providing opportunities for students to do science through distance and home learning. The Daily Do is one of the ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families with this endeavor. Each weekday, NSTA will share a sensemaking task teachers and families can use to engage their students in authentic, relevant science learning. We encourage families to make time for family science learning (science is a social process!) and are dedicated to helping students and their families find balance between learning science and the day-to-day responsibilities they have to stay healthy and safe.

Interested in learning about other ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families? Visit the NSTA homepage.

What Is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.


Today's task, How Can We Become Good Marble Players?, is geared toward younger children and their families (older siblings are encouraged to participate!) and uses the game of marbles as the phenomenon to motivate science learning.

Using marbles, students conduct an investigation (science and engineering practice), play a game, and use the thinking tools of patterns and cause-and-effect (crosscutting concepts) to make sense of the science ideas that when objects touch or collide, they push on one another, and can change motion.

Daily Do Playlist: Pushes and Pulls

How Can We Become Good Marble Players? is a stand-alone task. However, it can be taught as part of an instructional sequence in which students coherently build ownership of science ideas about what pushes and pulls can do. In this second of three playlist lessons, students add to the idea that pushes can change an object's motion (developed in the previous lesson) by investigating what happens when the object they pushed on then pushes on something else!

View Playlist



Introduction to the Phenomenon

Hold up a few small marbles and a large marble and ask children about their experience with marbles, or what they know about marbles. Accept all answers.

Let’s watch how people play marbles and figure out how you become a good marble player.

Show the first minute of the Playing With Marbles (marble tournament) video.

After watching the video, provide time for the children to think of something they noticed when they watched the video.

Let the children share and keep a record of what they noticed. If you work with a larger group, and a child shares an observation that already was mentioned, put a check mark by that observation.

Next, ask what questions children have about playing marbles when they watched the video. Record students' questions.

Select one question (or multiple similar questions) that asks about the movement of marbles, or how you can control where the marble will move, and say to the children, "Many of us our wondering about how the marbles move (or how we can make the marbles move where we want them to). Let's investigate this question first!"

Provide children with the template below to record their observations. If you are completing this Daily Do with students in a distance-learning environment, consider using the Google Doc My Observations student activity sheet to give students the opportunity to share their ideas with one another. If working with young students who are still developing reading, writing, and typing skills, leveraging tools like Voice Typing and the Read&Write Google extension can provide students of different abilities with equitable opportunities to engage in sharing their ideas. Guidance on how to use these tools can be found in this Google Tools for Young Students resource.

Investigation With Marbles 1

Provide children with one marble to launch (roll or flick) and one marble to set on the ground or the floor or a table. Try to hit one marble with another marble straight on.

  • What happens to the marble on the floor?
  • How does the marble on the floor move?
  • What happens to the marble you launched?
  • Where does it end up?

Draw a picture of what happens to the marbles. Use arrows to show how the marbles move.

Investigation With Marbles 2

Provide children with one marble to launch (roll or flick) and one marble to set on the ground or a table. Ask children to investigate how the direction from which the marble in their hand hits the marble on the floor affects the motion of the marble being hit.

Question: How does the direction from which one marble hits another marble affect the motion of the second marble?

Using their observation as evidence, support children to make a claim that answers the question they initially asked: How does the direction from which one marble hits another marble affect the motion of the second marble? Then ask children to support that claim with evidence from their observation.

If you work with very young children, this can be a group discussion in which children offer claims and evidence and agree and disagree with one another, while you lead the group to consensus, using the evidence from the investigation.

If the children are older, encourage them to write a claim and evidence on their own and then share their thinking with others.

Revisit the Phenomenon

Now that you have investigated how marbles move, what you do think you need to become a good marble player? Lead a discussion and ask the children to provide evidence for their answers from the video or their own investigation.

Play a Game of Marbles

Now, that we know more about marbles, let's play a game ourselves.

Watch the video How to Play Marbles and provide the materials needed to set up the marble game.

Let the children play one or two rounds of the game, then bring them back together.

Ask them how playing an actual game of marbles has reinforced or changed their ideas on how to become a good marble player.

Marbles are played throughout the world! Find and show additional pictures or video clips of children or adults playing marbles in other countries.

Teaching the Daily Do Playlist

The first two lessons on the playlist provide multiple opportunities for students to investigate pushes. You might ask students, "What have we noticed pushes can do?" Students might say pushes can move objects; big pushes move objects farther/faster than little pushes; and objects we push can then push on other objects. They may also say you can push objects in different directions.

Ask students, "Do you think pulls are like pushes?" or "Do you think pulls can do the same things pushes can do?" Make sure to follow up with the question, "Why do you say so?"

Ask students, "Should we investigate what pulls can do?"

View Playlist

NSTA Collection of Resources for Today's Daily Do

NSTA has created a How can we become good marble players? collection of resources to support teachers and families using this task. If you're an NSTA member, you can add this collection to your library by clicking + Add to My Library near the top of the page.

Check Out Previous Daily Dos From NSTA

The NSTA Daily Do is an open educational resource (OER) and can be used by educators and families providing students distance and home science learning. Access the entire collection of NSTA Daily Dos.

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