Marble Coasters

In Mr. Noon’s Science class, students built small-scale model roller coasters, (a.k. a Marble Coasters), out of pipe insulation and masking tape. They designed their models, refined their models and finally tested their models. They tested the models using three different types of marbles, each of different masses. The criteria was to have two hills and one loop, the marble had to stay on the track, and it had to end up in a cup. Many elements of the Engineering Design Process were in play during the construction and testing. Also, many science skills such as measuring, observing, collecting and analyzing data, and especially cooperation were also in play. The students were very excited about the activity and at times, frustrated. They gave the coasters bizarre and unusual names. Ultimately, students learned about the conversions between potential and kinetic energy. They learned how to calculate average speed. They determined the forces acting against and with the marble. As a summary, we will utilize a controlled coaster track to collect data and then graph the relationship between kinetic energy and mass and separately, kinetic energy and speed.

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