Slo-Mo Marble Challenge

Leicestershire / South Nottinghamshire

Slo-Mo Marble Challenge

  • Slo-Mo Marble Challenge

    What's it about?

    This creative 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.

Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 24 March 2022

Virtual judging: 24, 25 and 26 May 2022 at 3M, Charnwood Campus, Loughborough. Please indicate your preferred date/time on the entry form.


Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Students will be asked to deliver a presentation of up to 10 minutes length 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.

  • Judges will check the dimensions of the marble run are in line with the rules
  • 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 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
  • Three runs will 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 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation event on Friday 17 June 2022

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 Kindeva Drug Delivery. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1998 with a Master's degree in Engineering and managed engineering projects for 3M before moving to Kindeva. 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.

  • Fay Rochester

    Fay Rochester

    Fay Rochester is a Manufacturing Technology engineer for 3M's Abrasives division and is based at its Atherstone site in Warwickshire. She graduated from Loughborough University with a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2020 and as part of her course spent a year at 3M as an industrial placement student. Fay became a STEM Ambassador while she was studying for her degree, and is passionate about promoting diversity in science and engineering careers.