3M Young Innovators Challenge – coming soon for 2022!

We are planning to hold the 3M Young Innovators Challenge in 2022 for primary schools with a welcome return to face-to-face judging and presentation events, subject to government Covid-19 guidelines in force at the time.

Watch this space for further information. If you are a Year 3-6 primary school teacher or Science Coordinator in Leicestershire, South Nottinghamshire, Bracknell Forest or Wokingham and would like to be added to our mailing list for further information, please send your details to younginnovators@mmm.com

Slo-Mo Marble Challenge


Slo-Mo Marble Challenge

  • Slo-Mo Marble Challenge

    What's it about?

    This exciting primary school Challenge is to design and build a slo-mo marble run using materials from a given list, which maximises the time taken by a standard glass marble to roll from the top to the bottom.

    Judges will be looking for evidence of STEM learning through research into gravity; energy; friction; gradient and material properties, together with innovative design and construction methods.

    The run must incorporate a minimum of three different methods of slowing the marble's descent.

    Eligible school year groups: Years 3-6

    Entries accepted from: Individuals or teams of 2-5 students. Schools may submit a maximum of 3 entries for the Challenge. Teams may be mixed age if desired.

    Open to: Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Authority Schools, Academies and Private Schools. Home-educated children may also participate. See our Terms and Conditions.

    Watch the video to see the creative entries in the 2019 competition.

  • British Science Association CREST Awards

    CREST Discovery Awards

    3M will pay for entries for the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge to be submitted for a British Science Association CREST Discovery Award. See our Terms and Conditions. Please indicate your consent on the Entry Form.

Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 25 March 2021

Virtual judging: 26 and 27 April 2021 by Microsoft Teams meeting. Please indicate your preferred judging date/time on the entry form.

Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Students, supported by their teacher, should make a video diary of their project work, from the initial gathering of ideas and concept development, through to design modification, testing and problem solving. The video should be a maximum of five minutes duration and should be submitted in advance of the judging session. Students will be asked to deliver a presentation of up to 10 minutes length via a Microsoft Teams meeting to demonstrate their marble run and talk through their background research, material selection, design experimentation and construction processes. The judges will ask questions about the marble run and their STEM learning. All members of a team should play a part in the presentation.
  • Teachers should check the dimensions of the marble run are in line with the rules
  • Testing should be filmed as part of the video diary to be submitted to the judges
  • The marble should be released from the top of the marble run and allowed to roll to the bottom
  • The time taken for the marble to complete its journey should be measured using a digital stopwatch
  • If the marble stops during its run and fails to reach the bottom, the time taken to reach the point at which it stopped will be taken as the time for the run
  • Three runs should be timed and the longest time taken will be used for judging purposes
  • Mark Scheme

    Up to 35 marks for the marble run’s performance, based on the time taken for the marble to roll from the top to the bottom of the run

    Up to 30 marks for evidence of STEM learning including:

  • background research
  • idea generation
  • design and material experimentation
  • prototyping
  • overcoming problems and challenges

  • Marble runs must incorporate a minimum of three different methods of slowing the marble’s descent. Additional methods will score more marks

    Up to 20 marks for quality of the presentation and video.

    Up to 15 marks for the marble run’s style, aesthetics and visual appeal

    Total marks available = 100

    The students’ year group will be taken into account when awarding marks.

    Judges will select 4-6 finalists who will be invited to attend the virtual 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation event on Thursday 27 May 2021, where the winner will be announced.


    £750 of science or engineering equipment for school use plus a £50 gift voucher for the winning individual or team member. All finalists and their schools will receive a framed certificate.

    All entrants will receive a certificate of entry and personalised feedback from the judges.

    Curriculum links
    Links to Science Curriculum (England)

    Year 3 Forces and magnets

    Pupils should be taught to:
  • compare how things move on different surfaces

  • Year 5 Forces and magnets

    Pupils should be taught to:
  • identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces

  • Non statutory
    Pupils should explore the effects of friction on movement and find out how it slows or stops moving objects.

    Important documents to download

    Please make sure you download these important documents for the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge. Please save the entry form to your device and send as a file attachment to NorthEuropecomms@mmm.com.

    If you have any questions, please Get in Touch.
    Please see our Terms and Conditions.


    • Andy Fish

      Andy Fish

      Andy Fish joined 3M 17 years ago, having previously worked in the digital imaging and printing industry as a field service technician. He has a background in engineering and electronics and is a trained blacksmith. Andy has been in various technical roles at 3M with responsibilities including training, research and development and bid management. He is currently the technical service specialist for 3M Traffic Safety Systems. In his spare time Andy is a musician and songwriter, and enjoys playing and recording music.

    • Dawn Thompson

      Dawn Thompson

      Dawn Thompson is a senior account manager for the South East region of the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). The ECITB is the statutory training board and awarding body with responsibility for the training and development of the UK’s engineering construction workforce. She joined the organisation in November 2014 following a seven year career within the oil and gas sector, delivering and managing graduates, apprenticeships and project control-based vocational qualifications. Dawn’s background spans many industry sectors and multi-disciplinary experience.