One day, I was looking at vintage games on the internet, and I came across a Plinko board. Oh boy, I remember loving these. In Taiwan, these were all over the night market, and kids would play these for the chance of winning candy.
I remember watching anxious as the chip falls down the board, hitting the pegs along the way. If it lands in the side slots, then you win more candy.
We are replicating the classic game of Plinko board today with LEGO and marbles!
Making the LEGO Plinko board took a lot of trial and error. This means that it’s a great learning opportunity for your little ones to figure out how to make the marbles fall down the board correctly.
We basically looked at a picture of the Plinko board and tried to imitate it to the best of our abilities with LEGO bricks. The key is to make sure your marbles will fit between your pegs, or else they will get stuck instead of falling down to the slots.
How to Build a LEGO Plinko Board
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- You can choose to use 1 or 2 baseplates. If using two baseplates, place the two boards side by side and connect the two baseplates with two 2×4 LEGO bricks on the two sides.
- Build the border of the Plinko board (bottom and two sides) with 2×6, 2×4, 2×2, or 2×1 LEGO bricks.
- Place a 1×6 LEGO brick every 4 studs to divide your slots at the bottom of the board. To clarify, the slots should be 3 studs wide, so there are 3 studs in between two 1×6 LEGO bricks. **There will be one slot that is 4 studs wide.
- Place 1×2 LEGO bricks so that there are 3 studs between them horizontally and 2 studs vertically.
- Staggers the columns so you don’t have straight lines of bricks.
- Every other row, you will see that there will be a 1×2 brick with only 1 stud in between the 1×2 brick and the border. Remove those 1×2 bricks, or else the marbles get stuck in the little space.
- Now you have 5 studs in between the 1×2 brick and the border. Place a 1×4 brick next to the border so there are only 4 studs between the 1×2 and the 1×4 brick. This is necessary to prevent the marbles from falling down in a straight line.
- For the row right above the slots, place a 1×2 brick instead of a 1×4 brick next to the border, or else your marble won’t be able to fall into the bottom right slot.
- Leave some space on top for you to drop the marbles.
- Place additional bricks on the bottom border and the sides to ensure the marbles don’t fall out of the board.
- Prop up the LEGO Plinko board in a slant. You will need to play with the angle so that the marbles don’t fall out of the Plinko board (too vertical) or get stuck on the 1×2 brick (too horizontal).
- Place some thick books behind the baseboard if your baseboard tends to bend. You can also use a whiteboard or a baking sheet.
- Drop marbles from the top of the board and watch the marbles hit the 1×2 LEGO bricks on the way down!
One thing I would have loved would be to somehow put a glass or clear plastic over the Plinko board to prevent marbles from falling out accidentally. But I didn’t have a sheet of glass or plastic around, nor did I want to hot glue it onto the LEGO bricks since I want to reuse them for other fun projects like the Penny LEGO Boat Challenge.
You don’t have to follow my instructions to make the Plinko board! Let your child design his own Plinko board. There are endless ways to do this! Here are some things to try:
- Use 1×1 bricks instead of 1×2 bricks for the “pegs.”
- Drop a lot of marbles down the LEGO Plinko board. How many marbles are in each slot? Did one particular slot have more marble than others?
- The marbles will get stuck on the pegs here and there. Have your child try dropping marbles with the purpose of knocking the stuck marbles so that they continue to travel down the board.
The Math Behind the LEGO Plinko Board
The Plinko board might seem like a fun, mindless game, there is actually a lot of math behind it – namely, probability and Bell curve (or normal distribution).
If you drop enough marbles down a Plinko board, you will notice that the middle slot will collect the most marbles, and the slots on the sides have the least.
The theory of probabilities is too difficult for a young child to grasp, but you can explain it this way. When you drop marbles down the Plinko board, they take random walks down the lattice (or the maze of pegs). The marbles dropped down the center have more of a chance to land in the middle slots because they will have to travel farther to go to the side slots. The marbles dropped down the sides also have chances to go to the middle slots because they bounce off the borders, forcing them to go toward the middle.
Therefore, you end up with the middle slots with more marbles and side slots with very little.
Final Thoughts on the LEGO Plinko Board
One thing we didn’t do is assigning each slot a different number and see who wins the most points. My child had so much fun just dropping the marbles and watching them bounce off the pegs that I didn’t want to introduce the competitive element to such an innocent game.
I hope you and your child enjoyed the Plinko board. Check out the following LEGO activities for more brick fun:
Want this activity in an easy-to-print file? I have compiled 5 super fun LEGO STEM activities for kids in a printable PDF.
Each activity includes a list of supplies, step-by-step directions, an explanation of the science behind the activity, and different extensions based on the science concepts.
- Balloon-Powered LEGO Cars
- LEGO Zip Line
- Penny LEGO Boat Challenge
- LEGO Volcano
- LEGO Plinko Board
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