Roller Coasters

This Roller Coasters lesson plan also includes:

Twisting and turning through the sky, roller coasters are popular attractions at amusement parks around the world, but how exactly do they work? Explore the physics behind these thrilling rides with an engineering design activity. Starting with a discussion of potential and kinetic energy and the law of conservation of energy, young engineers apply these concepts as they work in groups creating roller coasters using flexible plastic tubing and marbles. Learners will likely be very energetic during this activity, so be sure to provide clear expectations for their behavior to ensure everyone's safety. Present this activity as an introduction to a science unit on energy and engage the class in learning about this fundamental topic.

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Classroom Considerations

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  • Offers suggestions for adapting the lesson to different age groups
  • Includes a demonstration that clearly models the relationship between potential and kinetic energy
  • Questions are provided for guiding a discussion about students' experiences with the activity

  • Teacher is required to purchase materials for the activity
  • Requires an opportunity for children to independently demonstrate their understanding of potential and kinetic energy