• STEAM Project:   Roller Coaster Physics:  
    Grade 4 Science Unit: Forces, Energy and Waves

    Congratulations! You have been  chosen to design a roller coaster for one of the area's theme parks.
    You have much research to do....
    PART ONE: Roller Coaster History

    Read the text below and learn about "Building the Longest, Tallest, Fastest Scream Machines,"   to get some background information on roller coasters. Answer the two questions about roller coaster construction thoroughly. 

     PART TWO: The Physics Behind the Coasters Research
    Roller Coasters rely on Physics to make their rides both exciting and safe.
    1. Watch this video interactive on Newton's Laws of Motion
    2. Read a bit about the physics behind coasters by going to the following web sites.  Fill out the  Physics Terms  table to help you understand the physics of roller coasters. Be sure to put answers in your own words. 
    Use the following Web Sites to help you: 
    Physics Terms & Definitions: http://www.funderstanding.com/slg/help/

    PART THREE: Roller Coaster Data & Analysis
    As a roller coaster designer, you must research different coasters in the area and some notable coasters around the world. We will focus on the following:
    Local Coasters: Six Flags Great Adventure's Kingda Ka, El Toro, Green Lantern, and Bizarro. Morey Pier's Sea Serpent.
    World Coasters: The Smiler, Fujiyama and Formula Rossa. 
    Use the Roller Coaster Data Sheet to keep track of your research. You must find type, height, speed, length, maximum drop & year built of each coaster.
    Use the following Web Sites to help you: 
    Roller Coaster Database: http://rcdb.com/ 
     Once your data table is complete, analyze it on the following document: Roller Coaster Math Analysis
    PART FOUR: Practice Design
    Now that you have researched area roller coasters and know a bit about the physics behind roller coasters, it's time to start designing! Go to the web sites below IN ORDER as the tasks go from least to most difficult. Be sure to complete each task to specifications.
    1. Whoahler Coaster
    Work and see how the roller coaster's shape affects potential and Kinetic Energy
    2. Design a roller coaster
    Work until your coaster is functional, safe, and fun. This site has two criteria for rating: fun & safety. You must work on this site until you get a thumbs p for BOTH fun & safety. The site gives you hints to accomplish this. Read carefully.
    3. Make adjustments to a coaster
    Work until your coaster is functional, stays on track, and is fun. Your coaster must hit speeds of 75 miles per hour or higher at some point during the rideYour coaster must include one loop and one hill. Work with your partner to figure out how to make this coaster fun, exciting, and safe.
    PART FIVE: Final Project- Design Your Own Marble Coaster
    Your coaster will have to be functional & apply basic physics concepts. You will need to draw it out on paper, come up with a theme for the coaster suitable for an amusement park, and  be creative. We will be using the Engineering Design Loop Model to guide us through the process. You can use the Design WS or Design and Plan to sketch and plan or use Google Drawing -Sample .

    Your roller coaster must meet the following criteria:

    • one loop
    • two hills
    • an entry and exit point
    • must be freestanding (not taped to desk, floor, can not be held up, etc.)
    • marble can't be touched once it starts 
    • a theme complete with decorations
    • last at least 2 full seconds 
    You will receive the following materials/tools:

    10-15 feet of masking tape
    5-6 pieces of light cardboard poster paper


    stop watch
    Here is an optional slideshow detailing the criteria: Roller Coaster Slideshow 

    PART SIX: Journal reflection
    After you have built and tested your roller coaster, you will reflect on the process of designing and building the coaster. You will need to explain the physics related to your ride in the entry. You must use at least 10 of the physics terms from the vocabulary list. 
    Good Luck!!!
    Dorian Gemellaro 
Last Modified on March 30, 2020