Section 3.3 Carousels & Roller Coasts in How Things Work, the Physics of Everyday Life. Students were to watch the following videos before class.
Today’s class happened to fall on Halloween so the students ate sugar and built paper roller coasters. I bought the templates off paperrollercoasters.com a few years ago and this was the first time I really used it in a class. It takes a lot of time to cut out the pieces, score them, fold them and tape them in place so I divided the class into two teams, 5 kids each. I figured that was enough kids to get a decent number of pieces built. As the two hour class started to wind down the building became frenzied and a bit sloppy but both teams managed to build coasters that fulfilled the requirements: 1.5 m of track 1 loop, 6 turns, at least 30 cm high, decorations and a bucket at the end to catch the marbles.
When they were finished they measured the time it took for a marble to complete the ‘ride’. The Cupcake coaster above took 8 seconds to reach the funnel at the bottom but another 8 seconds before falling into the bucket.
The Purple Terror above had a ‘ride’ time of 8 seconds, including nearly verticle drop shaft. This coaster also had warning sides, ride at your own risk.
Gauging from the laughter as the teams tried to out build each other, occassionally pilage parts and shouts of delight as the marble actually made it down the track and around the loop, this was a fun class. But if I were to use it in class again, I think having 3 to 4 hours would be better, or 2 class periods.
Many students brought in treats, including these amazing cupcakes.