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Marble Mazes

Try making obstacles to avoid, such as holes in the bottom or sides - or tunnels that cause your marble to magically switch direction! Get creative with paint, stickers, or just odds and ends laying around! - Roger
stuff you need
  • For the base: Plywood board, about 12" square (Or, a square of stiff cardboard)
  • For the sides of the maze: 1/4" strips of scrap wood (alternatives: plastic straws, popsicle sticks, or pieces of cardboard)
  • Hot melt glue gun and glue sticks
  • Strips of copper foil
  • Alligator clip sensor (Learn how to make an alligator clip sensor.)
  • Cricket
  • Motor and connector
  • LEGO bricks and other building materials (wood scraps, paper, cardboard, plastic toys, etc)

Start building your maze. We used an 8" square piece of plywood and 1/8" and 1/4" square wooden strips for the walls of the maze. You could also use other materials - for example cardboard and drinking straws could also work.

Hint: Make sure you leave enough room between the walls for your marble to easily move through the maze. Test it out with your marble to make sure!

Now, make a sensor and add it to the maze.

In this maze, two pieces of copper foil make the sensor. When the metal marble rolls between the pieces of copper it completes the circuit and a motor turns on.

Clip the alligator clips to each of the copper strips and glue then in place on the maze with the copper folded over the edge of the maze. Make sure they are close enough together, but not touching.

Plug the other end of the alligator clip sensor into the Cricket.

For this maze, Teresa and Roger wrote a program that turned the motor on for 30 seconds after the sensor was touched. Their program says "Wait until the sensor is touched, then turn the motor on for 3 seconds".
If your maze isn't working the way you expect, make sure the marble makes a good connection with the copper strips.

What kind of surprise will players find if they successfully complete your maze?

Roger and Teresa attached a little figure of a woman with a suitcase (and little dog, too!) on Astro-turf which spins around when the sensor is triggered.

- Use a voice recorder to record your voice. Then activate the recording by the sensor.
- Add a second sensor - if you have other types of sensors use them (reflectance, etc.)
- Try attaching the copper sensor strips in a different way - make it more challenging to play!
- Try making hidden tunnels with secret chambers and hidden surprises!
What else
Learn to make a domino run
Make a sensor with copper foil
Try building a marble machine

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