Everybody loves roller coasters, or at least watching them, even if it is a marble rolling down a ramp. Imagine the sense of accomplishment that comes with building your own roller coaster.
My school is located in low income area.
Most of my students have English as a second language. Many of them come come from broken homes and extreme poverty. Regardless of the life challenges facing my students, they continuously strive to rise above their surroundings. The staff at my school is dedicated to reaching these kids any way we can.
All year I lead my students in learning what they need to know for state testing. After testing we have almost an entire month to fill. This is when I introduce them to paper roller coasters. With this project students design and build a roller coaster that will allow a marble to go from beginning to end. They get to utilize many of the Physics concepts they have learned in class. Working in groups they must meet certain check points as they progress in building their roller coaster. Even though the pieces, straight, loops, and curves are cut from templates, they must design at least one trick maneuver for their marble. They must also calculate the average speed of their marble from start to finish. This activity gives students the opportunity to use Science, Math, and Engineering to build a complex paper roller coaster. I ordEr to complete t his project, my students need card stock paper and 30 rolls of tape.
What I find the most encouraging about this project is the effect it has on students.
I opened our lab after school one day during this project and had so many students working on them that they were even on the floor. It was amazing. Seeing a low achieving student (academically) discover that they have a talent for seeing how to make things work and watching the pride they have in saying "I made this part so it would work properly"--that is why this is important.
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