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The Best Marble Runs for Young Engineers

Last updated on May 29, 2024
Best Marble Runs

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Our Picks For The Top Marble Runs

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Best Seller

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Glowing Pack & Store Marble Run, 80-Piece

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Glowing Pack & Store Marble Run, 80-Piece

Kids can stretch their imaginations with this colorful toy. It includes five bases, 15 action pieces, and 45 track connector pieces, plus 15 marbles to ensure that forgetful users won't lose them too easily. The glow-in-the-dark feature will wow younger kids.

Overall Take

Wide Piece VarietyYounger kids will love the colorful array of fun glow-in-the-dark pieces in this marble run set.

 Top Pick

ThinkFun Gravity Maze Educational Marble Run Game

ThinkFun

Gravity Maze Educational Marble Run Game

This engaging toy gives the traditional marble run a twist with a focus on engineering. It can be played "freestyle" or through 60 different challenges that test a child's problem-solving skills. The toy includes a game grid, nine towers, a target piece and three marbles.

Overall Take

Fun STEM ChallengesThis updated marble run incorporates multiple STEM-building games.

 Runner Up

Marble Genius Plastic Marble Run, 150-Piece

Marble Genius

Plastic Marble Run, 150-Piece

The 85 sturdy, see-through building pieces and 65 glass marbles in this jumbo plastic set will allow kids to build marble runs as tall as they are, then play with them all day. This set is compatible with several expansion sets, so there's no end to the possible combinations.

Overall Take

Super Tall TowersExpect plenty of sturdy pieces in this colorful, see-through plastic marble run set.

  The Best Value

COUOMOXA DIY Children’s Marble Run, 110-Piece

COUOMOXA

DIY Children’s Marble Run, 110-Piece

This marble run features larger pieces that come in a variety of bright colors. Within the set you'll find 110 pieces, including blocks, slides, swings and see-saws. As children design their own marble run, they'll improve their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills, while also demonstrating their creativity.

Overall Take

Start Them YoungThis marble run is designed for use by children ages 3 and up.

Buying Guide

Every year, kids’ toys seem to get more complex. Go to any department store or online outlet today and you can find toys that incorporate everything from lasers to virtual reality. Chances are your own kids have already asked you for many of them. But while these toys aren’t necessarily detrimental to young minds, sometimes the most entertaining and educational toys don’t need you to plug them in.

Case in point: The marble run. This whimsical toy is one of the best STEM activities around for younger kids, and it’s powered by nothing more than gravity. Your youngster will learn a lot about that fundamental force of nature by playing with a marble run, and they’ll get to see friction and some basic engineering principles in action as well.

Of course, all that education is a fringe benefit. First and foremost, the act of building your own tiny marble racetrack is fun — so much fun that you might find yourself playing with the set when your kids aren’t around.

Even though marble run toys have an all-ages appeal, it’s important to pick a set that’s tailored to your child. Broadly defined, a marble run is any set of interlocking pieces that can form a track for a marble to roll down. You can find them in a wide variety of sizes, configurations and materials, but some sets can be too complex for younger children. Start simple for preschoolers. You might even consider buying toddlers a run that doesn’t use marbles at all. Small metal, glass or ceramic balls are a big choking hazard: Sets that use a larger plastic ball instead are more age-appropriate for younger children.

Once your child reaches the age of 4 or 5, you can start introducing them to more complex marble runs. There are some elaborate sets out there, made from brightly-colored plastic or even glow-in-the-dark materials that incorporate ramps, launchers and swings. These can provide a real “wow” factor, and as your kids build bigger and bigger sets they’ll be learning engineering concepts in a sneaky way. If you go with a wooden set, they might also learn a thing or two about traction — although those marble runs are typically geared more toward toddlers.

Quality marble runs will have pieces that interlock easily and balance well without being too hard to take apart. They should also be sturdy enough to stand up to the occasional collapse when your young one gets a little too ambitious. Also, look for sets that you can expand by buying additional pieces down the road. Once you and your kid start rolling those marbles down, you’ll want to build tracks that cover the whole room!

What to Look For

One of the great things about marble runs is how well they lend themself to solitary play. In fact, marble runs are incredibly versatile, and you might be surprised at the different ways older kids will find to play with them.

When it comes to younger children, though, don’t underestimate their ability to stick objects other than marbles inside the tubes. It’s all part of the learning process, but can be troublesome. You might want to consider keeping pipe cleaners or other tools around to “unclog” stuck pipes.

More to Explore

You may be able to set up some pretty impressive tracks in your own home, but you’ll probably have to take things outdoors if you want to come anywhere close to beating the world record for the longest marble run. That’s currently held by the employees of a sensor manufacturing company called Sensirion AG in Flumserberg, Switzerland, who in 2017 managed to build a working run that was 9,379 feet 7 inches long.

 

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