Modeling Roller Coasters

Specify Requirements

  • Criteria:
    • Use at least 2 tubes
    • Marble must travel from the start of one track to the end cup on another track, without falling off the track
  • Constraints:
    • Supplies: 2 meters masking tape, 3 foam tubes
    • Time Limit: 1 block period

Directions, Drawings, & Measurements

  1. Obtain supplies + 1 bag with marble, plastic cup, measuring tape, stopwatch
  2. How long is the entire track? Measure & record the length of the tubes in METERS.
  3. Make the best & most creative coaster that you can
    • Spread out and find a good area away from others.
    • The end of the coaster should empty into the cup.
    • Feel free to take pictures or video on your phone.
  4. Obtain & RECORD measurements
    • Measure the starting top height of the marble, in other words, from the ground up to the very top where it begins it’s course.
    • Time how long it takes the marble to complete the track.
    • Measure each element (start height, height & width of loops, track length, drop heights, corkscrew lengths, etc.).
  5. Cleanup
    • Carefully remove all tape.
    • Disconnect your foam pieces and band them together with the rubber band.
    • Return all supplies to your teacher.



Thinking About Roller Coasters

  1. What did you SEE as the marble moved along the track? Be specific.
  2. What did you HEAR as the marble moved along the track?
  3. What caused the marble to accelerate and/or decelerate?
  4. What did you notice about the starting height of your coaster?
  5. How might the roller coaster have been different if you used a lighter glass marble? Or a heavier copper ball?
  6. What patterns did you observe today?
  7. How can the knowledge and observations made today apply to the real world?
  8. A system is a bunch of smaller parts that work together to make a large thing work. What are the parts that make up the roller coaster system? Think of everything you see and things you don’t see