Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine

Inventing a machine is a fun science activity for kids. This bouncy ball machine invented by 4 year old Aiden combines two simple machines, a lever and an inclined plane, to release bouncy balls on the ground.

Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine - Fun Science for Kids

Inventing a Machine

Aiden was throwing bouncy balls on the ground the other day. He asked if he could build a “machine that drops bouncy balls.” I had no idea what that would look like, but of course said yes.

Here are the materials Aiden requested:

  • paper {card stock}
  • craft sticks
  • tape
  • bouncy balls

Aiden wanted one piece of paper turned into a funnel. I helped him tape the paper together. The second piece of paper was turned into a tube.

Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine - Fun Science for Kids

Aiden taped the funnel to the tube.

Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine - Fun Science for Kids

Next, he said he needed to add a button to the funnel. When you press the button, the ball is released. He wanted to tape a craft stick to the top of the funnel. This didn’t work as he intended. I asked him if he wanted the craft stick to lift up and release the ball. He said yes, so I suggested taping two craft sticks together and creating a lever. He liked the idea, so I poked a hole in the top of the funnel for the craft sticks to rest.

Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine - Fun Science for Kids

We leaned the invention against a small ottoman. In order to keep the bouncy ball machine in place, we taped it to the ottoman.

Inventing a Bouncy Ball Machine - Fun Science for Kids

Place the bouncy ball at the end of the craft stick. Press the other craft stick and watch the ball race down the tube.

In building this machine, Aiden learned about an inclined plane {a ramp} and how it can be used to lower an object. He also learned a little about a lever. In this case, our lever acted like a gate.

After enjoying the bouncy ball machine for quite some time, Aiden said it doesn’t do what he wanted. He wanted it to bounce the balls on the ground. Instead, the balls just roll out of the tube. Modifications to his design are in the works.

How would your children change it so the ball bounces upon exiting the machine?

More Child Initiated Science Activities

I love child led and child designed science activities. They are usually simple to set up and conduct. Here are some of our favorites.

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