I’ve loved roller coasters for as long as I can remember. One of my first experiences was on a rickety, old wooden roller coaster at a now-defunct amusement park called Joyland. I loved it…and have ridden many bigger (and scarier) coasters since that day.
My daughters are not quite as excited about roller coasters as I am, but my two younger girls attended a “Roller Coaster” day camp last week. It sparked a new curiosity in them as they watched several videos, read books, and completed some awesome roller coaster projects! One of the projects was definitely a hit with them, and I thought I’d share this paper plate roller coaster idea with you. It’s quite inexpensive, but it really gets the creative juices flowing.
Roller Coaster Paper Plate Project
- Paper plates
- Cardboard for a base
- Tape (painter’s tape works well)
- Paper towel rolls (optional)
- Toilet paper rolls
- Marble or small rubber ball
1) Brainstorm ideas for how to cut and utilize paper plates to make the roller coaster. For example, your child might cut out the center and use the edges to make various loops and tracks.
2) Use toilet paper rolls to add height to various parts of the roller coaster and tape the paper plate track onto them. Your child may also want to use the tp rolls to make tunnels in the roller coaster.
3) Test out the creation by sending a marble or small ball down the track!
4) Repeat, repeat, repeat! Experiment with various ways to make loops, twists, and more in your roller coaster.
More Roller Coaster Project Ideas:
Amusement Park Physics: Build your own Roller Coaster virtually
Teach Engineering: A free lesson for grades 7-12 on the physics of roller coasters
Another YouTube lesson on drawing a roller coaster (simple one done by kids)
NASA: Amusement Park Physics with a NASA Twist PDF (5th-9th grade)
Roller Coaster Science book: “Adventurous young learners will lose their marbles when they spend an afternoon with this fun set, all while learning some fascinating science along the way! Using a ball or marble and a small-scale ramp, children are introduced to amazing principles of physics like gravity, momentum, velocity, acceleration, friction, and centripetal force. A unique kit that introduce budding scientists to the fields of physics and engineering, Scientriffic: Roller Coaster Science challenges children to think about scientific principles as they ride on real roller coasters.”
Of course, the best ending to a unit study on roller coasters would be a trip to an amusement park to test a few out! I’m not sure I can convince the girls though…. 🙂
Do you have any fun roller coaster project ideas?