A local amusement park has asked you to design their next roller coaster. You decide to design a prototype suitable for a marble to travel from the start to the finish. You will use the prototype during your presentation to the local amusement park.
Engineers design and work on a team to build theme park rides and attractions that are safe, yet fun for guests like you. Engineers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida make between $67,000 and $110,000 a year.
About how many Mickey Mouse hats ($30) could you buy if you made $67,000 a year?
We encourage you to research roller coasters for inspiration. Most have a theme—Space Mountain and the Incredible Hulk are two examples. Write down things you notice during your research.
Let’s think through the following for your design. Don’t forget to take notes.
Now that you have some general design features written down, draw a sketch.
Describe your process for creating your prototype. What is the first step?
Take 1 strip of paper and fold into thirds. To join tracks, overlap one end of a track to the end of another track. Use tape to attach the two tracks.
Take 1 strip of paper and fold into thirds. Cut slits of on both sides—not the track. The slits can be of any size, but should be similar or consistent. Fold as desired and use tape as needed.
Create your own folding technique or design to add to your roller coaster.
Take 1 strip of paper and fold into fourths length-wise. Make a triangular prism by overlapping two of the fourths.
You can also make a rectangular prism using 2 strips of paper and folding both into fourths. Which support—triangular prism or rectangular prism—will provide more stability? Why?
What do you notice about securing the supports to a base (e.g., table, cardboard)? Why is this an important step?
Pause! For each test or trial, write down what happened or ask a parent/caregiver to write this information down. What went well or not so well? What did you change based on your observations? Remember the marble is to travel from the beginning to the end multiple times.
How might the failures during testing be based on physics?
The first roller coaster in America opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York on June 16, 1884. It traveled approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride.
Kingda Ka is one of the world’s tallest (456 feet) and fastest (128 miles per hour) roller coasters. Yet, it may be one of the shortest at 50.6 seconds.
The longest roller coaster is the Steel Dragon 2000 at 8,000 feet long. The duration of the ride is 4:00 minutes.
Do more research about roller coasters around the world.