Tuesday, February 10, 2015

An engineering challenge for kids to design and build a roller coaster.

STEM for Kids: Design and Build a Roller Coaster

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Project Set Up and Materials

Smarty built this project in her gifted enrichment after class led by Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. Students were given the following materials:
The students were then asked to design and build their own roller coasters with marbles serving as their cars. Each roller coaster had to contain at least one “hill” and end in the “cup terminal”.

Build Your Roller Coaster

Many students built traditional roller coasters with one loop. Smarty, however, decided to build a “Cobra coaster”. She wanted to have a vertical drop and then a hill. She discovered rather quickly that the marble gets off the track in this design. She solved this problem by “sewing” a foam pipe back together with toothpicks. She said that it’s even more thrilling to ride her “Cobra coaster” in the darkness.
We had a bit of a problem getting her roller coaster into a car – her supports collapsed and she tried to rebuild them at home. We had a rather heated discussion during her efforts to fix it up. I tried to explain to her why her top part is not stable, and she advised me that it’s her project, not mine. See, this is why I am glad that she gets to do this kind of projects in school :) Not only she does her own projects, she also learns from more “hands-on” kids – some of her classmates built amazing two loop roller coasters that actually worked. Perhaps your kids might surprise you with their designs too.

Your Turn

An engineering challenge for kids to design and build a roller coaster
Are your kids “hands-on” or “theoretical scientists” preferring to draw or talk through their designs? Despite wanting to be an engineer, Smarty is definitely is more of an “abstract thinker” :)

More Engineering Projects for Kids?

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maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I love that this idea is pretty simple materials-wise, but kids really have to think it through.

Kalista Sabourin said...

That looks like so much fun! My kids would love it. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah said...

What a fun idea. I'd like to do this one. :)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Very clever to sew the tube back up with toothpicks! I can just imagine trying to transport it back to school though. I imagine that's where the real engineering happened 😀

Nicola Simpson said...

This is very cool! Thanks for linking #familyfrugallinky

Ticia said...

Very hands on, my kids are incredibly hands on, but that probably doesn't surprise you.

I'd also get the "no Mommy this is how I want to do it," notice you don't see too many crafts on my blog recently because they don't really like following directions.