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The Kindergarten Marble Run Project at The College School

In the heart of education lies the idea of fostering curiosity and creativity, instilling skills that transcend the classroom and shape lifelong learners. At The College School, innovation met education through an emergent project that captured the imagination of Kindergarten children and educators alike: marble runs.

The Kindergarten Marble Run Project at The College School

Kindergarten students used different materials from the classroom and donated by families to design different marble runs.

The Genesis of the Marble Run Project

Guided by the Reggio Emilia Approach in our Early Childhood program, children at TCS are seen as competent, capable, and full of potential. They are active participants in their learning journey and have the right to express themselves in various ways. Through this approach, projects emerge each year in our Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms based on children’s interests and ideas. When our Kindergarten children began to show an interest in marble runs, our teachers, Emily and Lucy, jumped at the opportunity to explore this more deeply with them. More than just a construction activity, this was a journey of discovery and collaboration. 

From Design to Implementation

With the enthusiasm ignited, the children delved into the design phase of the project. Armed with an array of materials – from cardboard tubes to wooden blocks and other recycled and natural materials – the Kindergarten class set out to bring their visions to life. Guided by their teachers, they explored concepts of stability, balance, and trajectory, making adjustments and revisions along the way.

“As the marble runs began to take shape, so too did the children’s understanding of fundamental scientific and design principles,” said Lucy Shirley, Kindergarten teacher. “They experimented with slopes and angles, observing firsthand the effects of gravity and momentum. Through trial and error, they honed their problem-solving skills, learning to adapt and persevere in facing challenges.”

Collaboration and Communication

Central to the Marble Run Project was a joyous spirit of collaboration. Children pooled their ideas and resources in small groups, each contributing unique perspectives to the collective endeavor. Through this collaborative process, they developed essential teamwork skills and learned the value of listening to others and compromising to achieve common goals.

The Kindergarten Marble Run Project at The College School

Students worked together to solve problems and create solutions when creating marble runs.

“Working together is better than just doing it alone,” said Charlie W., Kindergarten student.  “Then you can be kind. You want to be kind. Landyn and Nolan worked together to make a really big marble run. And then we added things to make it turn. Then we had more ideas. Marble run is all about teamwork.”

Moreover, the project provided ample opportunities for communication and expression. Whether discussing their design plans, offering feedback to peers, or narrating the journey of a marble through the run, children honed their verbal and interpersonal skills, gaining confidence in their ability to articulate thoughts and ideas.

“A huge part of this project was the class’s emphasis on community,” said Emily Levin, Kindergarten teacher. “Our students consistently loved working together, sharing ideas, and teaching one another new things. Their love for helping each other extended beyond marble run making (from teaching each other how to build paper airplanes and fortune tellers to helping each other spell or find someone’s mailbox). Though our project became an outlet and opportunity for them to hone their passion for helping others.”

Creativity Unleashed

At its core, the Marble Run Project is a celebration of creativity. Freed from the confines of traditional learning frameworks, children were encouraged to think outside the box, explore unconventional solutions, and embrace the beauty of trial and error.

The Marble Run Project at The College School

Kindergarten students collaborating to make their marble run kits for the community.

With this freedom, they decided collectively to expand their work to impact their larger community, coming up with the idea to create custom marble run kits. Enlisting the help of the larger school community, Kindergarten collected recycled cardboard tubes of various sizes, which they painted and used to build their kits. In addition, they collaborated on a marble run manual, guiding end users with tips for how to make successful marble runs and troubleshoot arising issues. 

Empowering Lifelong Learners

As the Marble Run Project drew to a close, its impact on the Kindergarten children was evident. Beyond the tangible results of their efforts – the intricate networks of tubes and tunnels, the mesmerizing journey of marbles in motion – lay a wealth of intangible lessons that would resonate far beyond the classroom walls.

Through hands-on exploration, children developed a genuine love for learning, fueled by curiosity and wonder. They discovered that failure is not an obstacle but a stepping stone to growth, collaboration is the key to unlocking new possibilities, and creativity knows no bounds.

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