My students need card stock, tape, and marbles to help them build and test roller coasters for an end-of-year physics project.
Part of the fun of teaching and learning science is the hands-on activities. However, with such a focus on test prep, teachers don't often have the time for these engaging activities. Now that state testing is about to wrap up, we have time for some of these projects and experiments.
I teach 8th grade physical science at a predominantly Latino middle school in an inner-city CA neighborhood where over 60% of the adults never finished high school and almost 40% are living below the poverty line.
These financial and demographic constraints prevent many students from participating in educational experiences that many of us take for granted.
In addition, the national emphasis on standardized testing often puts teachers in a bind to cover the material and prepare for state testing, often to the detriment of more engaging, hands-on explorations. I would like to give my students some of these experiences before they head off to high school.
A former colleague used to have her students build roller coasters, and while I've always been inspired by the projects her students created, I never felt prepared to include a similar activity in my classes. After a summer training institute, I acquired templates for printing the various parts of the roller coaster and also had the chance to try it out for myself. Now that I know what to expect, I would like to give my students the opportunity to experiment and explore different roller coaster designs.
Students will use the card stock and tape to prepare color-coded roller coaster parts (support beams, loops, spirals, ramps, funnels, etc.). Then, they will work in teams to design, assemble, and test their roller coasters, with prizes going to the teams with the longest, tallest, and fastest coasters, as well as the most loops, best theme/design, and highest jumps, etc.
By donating to this project, you will enable my students to immerse themselves in hands-on scientific exploration and problem-solving in a fun, engaging, and challenging end-of-year competition.
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