Chain Reaction Mystery: Part 1

There are two kinds of energy: potential and kinetic. Potential energy is energy that is stored and can be motivated to use, such as a car on a hill. Kinetic energy is energy that is already in motion, such as a basketball being thrown. In this experiment, students will construct a reaction that causes them to have to consider where potential energy is and how to convert it to kinetic energy.


  • Chain reaction starter kit handout
  • marble corral handout
  • scissors
  • tape
  • 1 paperclip
  • marker
  • ruler
  • rubber band
  • Dixie cup
  • larger cup


  1. On the ramp handout, cut on the THICK black lines
  2. Fold the solid lines and cut on the dotted lines
  3. Fold in half where the diamond is located and create a triangle and make two cuts to cut it out
  4. On the tilt platform, fold side flaps in and the back flap up and over
  5. secure this with your paper clip
  6. line up ramp and tilt platform and tape
  7. set tilt ramp on larger cup and tape to secure
  8. To make a lever, place the marker in the center of the ruler (like a seesaw) and rubber band together
  9. The lever needs to touch the tilt platform. Discuss resolutions to make this happen. We moved the marker to the end of the ruler, rather than the middle
  10. fold the marble corral handout and place the dixie cup at the end of the ramp with the marble corral underneath and around it
  11. Place the marble at the top of the tilt platform and test it out!


  • Where is the potential energy? The marble has potential energy before it is hit with the ruler
  • Where is the kinetic energy? The lever being pushed, the marble rolling down the ramp, and the dixie cup being moved all create kinetic energy
  • how could you make the cup move further? How would you cause the marble to have more kinetic energy to be transferred to the cup?

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