Build a roller coaster out of straws and a cardboard box in this engineering design challenge your middle school students (and even older) will love.
- Start with this teaser
- Follow video by asking how students have been on/like roller coasters. Allow them to share experiences of riding a roller coaster.
- This link has pictures of some famous roller coasters.
- This is a video of Goofy’s Shy School at Disneyland. Good example as it is in a small confined area and does not go upside down. I imagine some students have been on this.
- Ask students how roller coasters work
Teams will earn points for:
- length of track
- height of roller coaster (every 10 cm)
- each 90° turn
- each 180° turns
- track that raises more than 5 cm
- keeping ball on track entire ride
- speed cm/sec
You will lose points for:
- car stalling on the track
- car leaving the track
- every straw you use over 75
Your “car” will be a ping pong. Do not attempt to have your car go upside down. Your car will start at the highest point.
- critical velocity:
- kinetic energy:
- potential energy:
Download lesson templates: roller coaster
Thanks to Norm Sotomayor at Fortuna Middle School for this project!