Take a Roller Coaster Ride
Students take on the role of engineers who need to design a roller coaster. They will learn about the history of roller coasters, the different types, and the many things that affect roller coaster success. Finally they use a variety of Internet resources to guide them as they design their own roller coaster and test it for success.
roller coaster, safety, experiment, physics
Set up this lesson by telling students
You have just been employed to design a new roller coaster ride for a theme park they are building in your state. In order to create a thrilling but safe ride, you need to learn more about roller coasters.
Begin your research at Amusement Park Physics. After reading the introduction, select the "roller coaster" link at the bottom of the page to learn how a coaster works and the difference between wooden and steel coasters.
Take time to visit How Roller Coasters Work -- Types of Roller Coasters and read through that section on coaster types.
Then do a little experimenting: Try the Weightless Water Trick.
Next, take a couple of small toy cars and experiment with them on your own. See what happens if you make them go down hills that slope gradually rather than suddenly. What happens on hills that have another hill at the bottom? How does this relate to your roller coaster design?
Create a timeline of your own showing the most important events in the history of roller coasters. You may use mapping software such as "Kidspiration" or paper and pencil for this activity.
A good engineer always designs a prototype first. Create yours at Amusement Park Physics: Design a Roller Coaster.
When you finish, go back and take the Safety Inspection to discover the success or failure of each step in your design.
Now, you are ready to create your roller coaster using the simulator at Funderstanding Roller Coaster. Please note that this site may take a long time to load and that you may need to scroll down a bit to see the content.
AssessmentStudents will be assessed
VaReane Heese, Springfield Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska
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