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.
Step 1: Materials, Helpful Hints and Rubric
Here's what you're gonna need!
Card Stock Paper (110 # is best)
Tape (lot's of it)
A paper cutter
Masking tape or Duct tape (you don't need the tape, just the shape of the roll for your loops and corkscrews).
Helpful Hints in no particular order.
Build from the bottom up.
Crease ALL folds.
Make a plan, but be flexible if things aren't working out.
Make good supports.
Keep the decline of your tracks to a minimum (so the marble doesn't roll too fast) unless you are trying to get over a loop or complete a jump.
Paper Roller Coasters
Objective: Work in groups of 2 or 3 utilizing your knowledge of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion to create a paper roller coaster that can carry a marble for the longest period of time without stopping.
1. The model should be designed for a glass marble. When released from the top of the first hill, the marble will travel through the entire ride and arrive at the bottom loading platform. (For this project, the marble will be raised by hand to the top of the first hill to start the “ride”.)
2. Your team may use more than one marble.
3. Magnets, electricity, springs, and other forms of energy may not be used this is a “gravity ride” only.
4. No one is permitted to touch the coaster once the ride begins.
5. There needs to be a clear “end” to your ride.
6. You will have only three chances. Your longest time will be the one you get graded on.