The Science School Yard: Roller Coaster Theme Park

Friday, March 11, 2016

Roller Coaster Theme Park

Time for some simple science. Here is a great way to get your little scientists to build a simple roller coaster. Here is what you need:

1. Pipe insulation tubes 3/4 size cut in half (I used a carving knife)
2. cup for the marble to land in
3. marbles (be prepared to lose some passengers
4. The book Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
5. cut strips and colored construction paper for an art project
6. Anchor chart
7. colored roller coaster pattern (included at the end of this post)

Now, for the lesson:
1. I always start off with a question, "How many of you have ever been on a roller coaster?" They are directed to pick a ticket for the ride based on the answer yes or no I have been on a roller coaster. I let them know they are going on one right now...I then let them into my room and I "buckle" them up for the ride using ribbon attached with tape to a wall. I let them know that all hands and arms must remain in the roller coaster at all times. I collect their tickets and while they are on the ride I glue their "tickets" down on our anchor chart.
2. We discuss that some roller coasters have straight flat areas, curves, hills, and loops. Some have them all. However an engineer wants to build a roller coaster that is safe for everyone. They use the idea of motion to get them understanding it is a push and a pull, momentum has to occur, and gravity slows you down.  I then show them this video... It shows loops, curves, hills, and more!

3. Now it is time to build and test our roller coasters. I give them each a check off sheet, a cup and a marble, and one track to start with. We practice how to get the marble passenger in the cup. Not too much momentum and not too little. We try the straight track...then the curve...then the hill. Finally...
4. I give them one more track to add onto their coaster. I use masking tape to tape it together. Now it is time for the loop. We talk about safety and how engineers need to create a coaster that is safe for the passengers.
5. I give the kiddos time to work on their coasters with teams to collaborate...
6. We follow up with a share out of what we learned by showing the different types of coasters. Finally, we create an art activity that shows loops, curves, hills, and more!
I have them write: Roller Coasters Can...go straight, curve, go down a hill, and loop. The words go on each piece of paper. We also display our tickets to the ride...Yes I have been on a roller coaster...No I haven't been on a roller coaster...

Have fun with this simple science activity! Science is fun in any school yard!

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