Introduction  

In this design challenge, you will create your own roller coaster, using a marble or small ball as your cart. This activity is a great introduction to hands-on engineering for children 6 and up, and it can be used to introduce connections of energy and friction for older children. While the activity can be completed in around 20 minutes, don’t be surprised if your family spends 45 to 60 minutes perfecting their creations, or building an entire amusement park in your living room!  

Design Challenge

Create a coaster that will deliver your ‘cart’ safely into a cup at the end of your track. 

Bonus challenge: Make your coaster stand up on its own.

Materials

The roller coaster track can be built from all types of materials, depending on what you want it to do (note: use more flexible yet sturdy materials if you are going to include loops). Explore your junk drawer or recycling bin to find unique items. 

Roller Coasters

Subject

Engineering design challenge, Physics

Ages

6-12

Time

20+ minutes

Key Concepts

Design, iteration and problem-solving, gravity, potential/kinetic energy 

Want a challenge?

JUMP IN!

Create a ramp using household objects and roll or slide objects down it. How does changing the ramp's angle/length change the outcome?

Want a challenge?

REWARDING & FLEXIBLE

Create a coaster that will deliver your ‘cart’ safely into a cup at the end of your track.

Want a challenge?

DESIGN CHALLENGES AHEAD!

Use timers and measurements to calculate velocity.

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