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

Leicestershire / South Nottinghamshire

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: Leicestershire and South Nottinghamshire 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.

Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 25 March 2021

Virtual judging: 11, 12 and 13 May 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

£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.

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

    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 10 June 2021

    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 younginnovators@mmm.com.

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



    • Frida Nzaba

      Frida Nzaba

      Frida Nzaba is an Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce. Starting her engineering career in 2013, Frida joined Rolls-Royce as an apprentice and, three years later, achieved a Level 4 Extended Diploma. She then attained a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2017. Since January 2020, Frida has been working as an Engines and Modules Manufacturing Engineer, developing, implementing and improving methods that can be used to assemble and disassemble the engine. Outside work, Frida founded Edu-Cater Global in 2019, a non-profit social enterprise that acts as a catalyst in bridging industry and education through inspiring, energising and developing individuals to harness the power of STEM to make tangible differences to their communities and economies. Frida is also a WISE Young Professionals Board Member, advocating for women in engineering.

    • Nishma Trivedi

      Nishma Trivedi

      Nishma Trivedi is a Senior Quality Engineer in the Quality Assurance department at Kindeva Drug Delivery. She studied Biomedical Material Science at University of Manchester and obtained sponsorship to complete a Masters in Polymer Science & Engineering from Unilever. Nishma is keen to develop young minds towards STEM careers and enjoys sharing her passion through supporting careers events and school activities. She is very excited to judge the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge again.