STREAM Activity: Marble Painting
Experiment with force & inertia!
Activity best for children ages 2 and up
Have you ever noticed that the world is full of motion? Motion is the process of moving or being moved. Take a look around – maybe you see a wagon rolling down the sidewalk as someone pulls it along, the wind pushing the leaves of a tree, or your grown-up pulling your favorite snack out of a cabinet. These are all examples of motion! Today, we’re going to work together to learn about how motion happens. Motion is caused by force! Force is a push or a pull that causes something to move.
Many years ago, a wise scientist named Isaac Newton discovered that for an object to move, it needs a force to push or pull it along! Otherwise, the object will stay right where it is. For example, a ball sitting on a flat lawn won’t move unless we give it a kick or toss it to a friend! This works the same way if an object is already moving too – for example, if a ball is rolling down a hill, it will keep on rolling unless something stops it from moving! This is called inertia. Today, let’s experiment with force and inertia by creating some beautiful marble paintings.
Washable paint (Tempera paint recommended)
Marbles or ping pong balls (small bouncy balls or heavy beads can also work!)
A baking sheet or tray
Pie tins, bowls, or plates to hold paint
Optional: a tablecloth, newspaper, or washable towel
When the tray and our paper are sitting still on a flat surface, do the marbles or balls move?
Do the marbles or balls move differently when the tray is flat and we roll them with our hands versus when we tilt the tray one way or the other?
How are the paint lines different between a small marble and a bigger ping pong ball?
Today, we’re going to make marble paintings! Gather the materials you’ll need to create your artwork.
Optional step: lay out a tablecloth, newspaper, or washable towel to protect your work surface from any paint.
Make sure you have a parent or caregiver to help you with this step. Carefully pour some paint into a pie tin, bowl, or plate that you’ll use for dipping your marbles and/or ping pong balls.
Have your piece of paper ready in the middle of your baking sheet or tray.
Dip your marbles and/or ping pong balls in your paint. This step can get a little messy!
Drop your paint-covered marbles and/or ping pong balls on to the paper in the center of your baking sheet or tray. Roll the marbles and/or ping pong balls across your paper with your hands to create lines and designs!
Try picking up one side of the baking sheet or tray and gently tilt it so the marbles and/or ping pong balls roll across. Observe how more lines and designs are made!
Repeat steps 3-5 until your artwork is complete. Enjoy your marble painting masterpiece (remember to let it dry)!
Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!
Oscar and the Cricket: A Book About Moving and Rolling by Geoff Waring
Real World Connections
Today, we learned that force is a push or a pull that causes something to move. Have you ever gone bowling and rolled a ball into the pins? That’s an example of using force! Have you tried gently pushing a bouncy ball, so it rolls across the floor to another friend? That’s using force too! Next time you’re at the museum, check out our Ball Wall. Watch as the balls move as they go down the ramps – think about how force makes the balls move!