Tech Support: Marble Launcher



Helpful Tips

  • Assign roles to group members when using the marble launcher. You will need a launcher, a spotter, a measurer, and a recorder.
  • Once students have collected data with the marble launcher, it is fun to place a paper target on the floor and see if students can get a marble to land on a chosen position. With younger students, a medium-sized box makes a good target.
  • To collect consistent, precise data, have students practice their launch technique repeatedly before beginning the experiment. The same student should launch the marble throughout the experiment. The best way to launch the marble is to "flick" the trigger, and have the least amount of contact with the finger as possible. Inconsistent launch technique yields poor accuracy with this launcher. If you are consistent with your launch technique, the accuracy is excellent.


Q: Do I need to use a timer and photogate with the marble launcher?

A: No. You can experiment with launch angle vs. range, and this does not require a photogate. If you want to study launch speed vs. range, you will need a photogate.

Q: Can I launch the steel marbles that come with the rollercoaster?

A: The steel marbles are about 4 times more massive than the plastic marbles, and they will not give a good range. But they could also damage floor tiles or other things - so we don't recommend using the steel marbles!

Q: I understand how to change the launch angle, but how do you vary the launch speed?

A: You can vary the launch speed by launching the marble from 6 different launch positions. Pulling the spring-loaded launcher all the way back into the barrel will provide the greatest force, and will impart the greatest speed to the marble.