Picture of Paper Roller Coasters :)
As a science teacher, this is the best project I do all year.  I have yet to come across a project where students are more engaged.  They want to come after school to work on it, they ask to take the project home to work over the weekend, students are shocked when the class period has come to an end, and they all want to skip their next class to continue working.

The purpose of this project is to reinforce Newton's Laws of Motion through roller coaster physics.  The objective is to have a marble take the GREATEST amount of time to get from the top of the first hill to where the coaster ends. 

This instructable has also been submitted into the paper contest.  I know the competition is fierce so please vote for me!

Students will demonstrate ability to:

Plan and Create a paper roller coaster 
Evaluate and test and retest their roller coaster
Analyze how to best manipulate the forces of friction and gravity
Explain the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy
Calculate problems involving free fall
Create tracks to better understand centripetal force

This assignment can be easily differentiated... make the goal time longer, make the base smaller, limit the amount of paper or tape...

Below is a roller coaster I created as an example for my students.  The video starts with an explanation followed by a test run (around the 1:50 mark).  I tried to incorporate as many features as possible onto one sheet of card stock.  The last step has a video of a paper roller coaster I created a few years ago that includes an elevator.

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Biodynamic (author)  deleted_account6 months ago

Hey, sorry it took so long to get back to you. I usually try to keep students in groups of 2 or 3. When I taught on a 90 minute block schedule I would give them about 4-5 full class periods. Now that I'm teaching 45 min. classes, I give them about 10 class days. It's a long project. Often times, students will totally trash what they started and rebuild (where it becomes most clear to me that they are learning from mistakes).

marydecorator7 months ago

Just awesome

Biodynamic (author)  marydecorator7 months ago
Thank you very much!
owlsquest7 months ago

This is perfect for my Physics 30 class!

And Voted

steveywevey7 months ago
e-beth7 months ago
love these things
ecsaul237 months ago


Biodynamic (author)  ecsaul237 months ago
This is sweet
Biodynamic (author)  darthvadersbro7 months ago