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A1 Marvellous marbles: to move or not to move

Experiment to move marbles.


Activities A1 to A5 make up Science in Motion: Gravity and Friction. Support students to explore forces and motion for the first time with the activity below.

Activity A1 Marvellous marbles: to move or not to move [PDF, 171 KB]

How to use this activity

This is a "first exploration" type activity.

By being open it allows the teacher to gain an understanding of student’s prior knowledge about forces and motion, including potential misconceptions. Listen and watch very carefully. Accept their descriptions and vocabulary.

Be wary of instantly using technical words such as energy, force, gravity etc without checking that all students know what is meant by each one.

This is an opportunity to use the student’s ideas as the starting place for co-constructing class definitions and understanding.

This activity is adapted from Building Science Concepts Book 42: Marbles. Additional content support for teachers can be found in this book.

Book 42: Marbles: Exploring Motion and Forces (TKI - Science online)(external link)

Where it fits in the New Zealand Curriculum

Nature of science strand

Investigating in Science – exploring, predicting, defining, analysing.

  • Science activities can be used to develop any of the Nature of Science sub strands.
  • Identify aspects of Investigating in Science that your students need to get better at or understand more fully.
  • Then frame your unit to be very clear about these things when you do them.

NZ Curriculum | Science achievement objectives(external link)

Capability focus

Gather and interpret data, use evidence.

The five science capabilities (TKI - Science online)(external link)

Contextual strand

Physical World. Achievement objective: explore, describe and represent patterns and trends for everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces.

Big science idea

Changing the movement of an object requires a (net) force to be acting on it.


  • A marble does not move until something happens (an unbalanced force) to make it move.
  • We can make marbles move quickly, slowly and in different directions.
  • A marble can be moved by either a push or a pull.

Possible learning objectives

The students can . . .

  • identify and describe patterns involving similarities and differences
  • make claims and justify them with evidence
  • describe that a push or pull is needed to move a marble (or any object)
  • identify factors that cause a marble to move faster or slower or change direction.
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