MIDDLEBURY — Grant Stoffel owns marbles – a lot of them.

When it comes to sorting the glass balls, the third-grader at Middlebury Elementary School will have no trouble, thanks to his latest creation.

The invention was part of a class project. As preparation, Stoffel, 8, and his classmates spent time reading about inventions and inventors one week, recycling the next, and then read a book aloud about someone who creates sculptures from recycled items.

For their project, the students could choose to do an invention, a litter critter or a sculpture.

Stoffel was the only student to choose an invention. The idea for his invention came after he watched a video of someone who created a machine that sorts marbles by color.

He then decided that it would be an asset for him to have a machine that sorted his marbles by size.

“I have a lot of marbles and I don’t like to sort them by hand,” Stoffel said. “So, I decided to make a machine that could sort the marbles for me.”

The machine works by Stoffel dropping marbles into a pipe which rolls them onto two dowel rods. By placing rods at a graduated angle he was able to determine the points on the rods at which space would be wide enough for each marble to fall through, depending on their size, and land in a shoebox of their corresponding size.

Not only did he ace the project, but Stoffel also earned bragging rights from his teacher, Angie Troyer, who said it was the coolest project she’s ever seen in her 28 years of teaching.

“I love that this machine is practical and kid-created – it serves a big purpose,” she said. “I sort Legos at home and I know as a parent how long that kind of stuff can take. So for him to make a practical design that’s going to save time is great.”

Troyer said she also plans on showing a video of Stoffel’s project as an example for future classes.

Stoffel said he’s glad to have worked on a project that will be valuable to him outside of class.

“Sorting marbles will be more easy and fun,” he said.

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