A marble sorter uses a hopper, transport system, sensors, bins and a computer program to sort and separate marbles of different colors. It is an educational project designed to teach students the principles of engineering involved in sorting recyclable waste materials.
In a marble sorter project, teams of two or more students use Fischertechnik construction pieces to created a simulation of an automated recycling center. The marbles are first dumped randomly into the hopper system. From there, they move via the transportation system past sensors that use a computer program with specific subroutines devised to detect the differences between the marbles. The transportation system adjusts to sort the marbles into the correct bins according to their classifications. As students move through the project from initial conception to completion, they keep journals that record construction diagrams, step-by-step narratives and reports of daily progress. Through working on the marble sorter, they see how a recycling center functions as an alternative to dumping refuse indiscriminately into a landfill.
Fischertechnik is a German company that produces construction toys created to enhance the interest of young people in science and technology. The kits include building blocks, motors, various electronic components and computer software to use as a base for the construction of various scientific projects in the fields of robotics and automation.