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 to slow 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 Nottinghamshire Authority schools, academies and private schools within the circulation area of the Loughborough Echo or who are members of the Loughborough Learning Alliance. Home-educated children may also participate. See our Terms and Conditions.

    Main marble banner image © reproduced with kind permission

    Watch the video to see the creative entries in the 2018 competition.

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Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 22 March 2019

Judging: 3 and 7 May 2019 at 3M, Charnwood Campus, 10 Bakewell Road, Loughborough, LE11 5RB. Please indicate your preferred judging date/time on the entry form.


Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Students, accompanied by their teacher, will be invited to present their marble runs to the judges and give a presentation of up to 10 minutes on their background research, experimentation, final design and construction. The presentation can take any form (Powerpoint® slides, poster, songs, drama, simple talk etc.) and should aim to build the students’ confidence, communication and presentation skills. The judges will ask questions about the marble run and the students’ work. All members of a team should play a part in the presentation.

  • The dimensions of the marble run will be checked
  • The marble will 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 will 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
  • Each entrant/team will be allowed a maximum of 3 runs, and the longest time taken will be used for judging purposes
Mark Scheme

Up to 40 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 25 marks for evidence of STEM learning including:

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

  • Marble runs that incorporate a variety of different methods and/or materials for slowing the marble’s descent will score highly

    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 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation evening at Loughborough College on 14 June 2019.


    £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

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



    • Chris Bishop

      Chris Bishop

      Chris Bishop is a Principal Project Engineer at 3M. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1998 with a Masters degree in Engineering, and has managed engineering projects for 3M ever since. A Chartered Engineer and STEM Ambassador, Chris enjoys delivering maths and engineering-based activities in primary schools, and lives in Loughborough with his wife and two young children.

    • Nishma Trivedi

      Nishma Trivedi

      Nishma Trivedi is a Quality Engineer in the Quality Assurance department at 3M. 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 lives in Loughborough with her husband and two daughters, aged eight and one. She is very excited to judge the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge.

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