The Unsurpassed Challenge of Roller Coasters

Do you love roller coasters?
Once upon a time I would stand and wait on my family until the ride was over. I even let my husband take our four-year-old on the Georgia Cyclone without me. Then one day, I decided to try a coaster and actually keep my eyes open and IT WAS FUN! 

This brings me to the STEM Challenge- the unsurpassed, extraordinary, most requested, and the easiest challenge of them all! Here's the best news- there are so many versions of roller coasters. Take a look!

STEM Challenges: Roller coasters are kid favorites in STEM class. Check this blog post for four versions of roller coasters!

PAPER PLATE COASTERS

STEM Challenge: Make a marble run coaster using paper plates! Check this blog post for more!
This STEM challenge was part of a package I purchased from Brooke Brown at Teach Outside the Box. It's a fairly simple challenge and I tried it with second, third, and fourth graders. Best of all, it takes only a few materials! Easy prep and easy cleanup- that's a win-win!

STEM Challenge: Make a marble run coaster using paper plates! Check this blog post for more!
These photos were all taken with the second graders that tried this challenge! We watched a 30 second You Tube video before making these. I found one that was a video of a kid testing a paper plate coaster and we watched it so the kids would understand what we were building. I thought the little kids would need that visual. Then I did show them how to cut off the edges of the paper plates! 

My big kids loved making these, too! Check the video below from second graders!



MARBLE RUNS

STEM Challenge: Use cardboard tubes as the pathways for this fun coaster! Check this blog post for more!
This one seems so amazingly simple and I tried it a few months back with fourth graders. They had a blast with this design-and-build challenge. We learned a lot about how to connect tubes, make the tubes curve, and attach tubes to the table. We also learned to use a large piece of cardboard to build these on because we could not get them finished in one class session. They had to be stored and moving them was a huge problem.

STEM Challenge: Use cardboard tubes as the pathways for this fun coaster! Check this blog post for more!
I wrote a blog post all about these and you can check it out right here: Marble Runs

STEM Challenge: Use cardboard tubes as the pathways for this fun coaster! Check this blog post for more!
The kids loved these and we did take a few of them home. They were actually quite sturdy and could be carried away without damaging them. It definitely took lots of hands to create these and fabulous teamwork!


DIFFERENT MARBLE RUNS

STEM Challenge: Build a vertical marble run using cardboard tubes! Read this blog post for more!
I have always wanted to try one of these and I have watched kids do this with foam tubes, but never cardboard tubes. Then I purchased a Space Pack from Science Schoolyard and this challenge was part of that pack! The idea is that kids build the marble run to connect Earth to the Moon or really whatever heavenly bodies you wish to connect.

STEM Challenge: Build a vertical marble run using cardboard tubes! Read this blog post for more!
These were really cool to build. The kids had some very imaginative ways to make the marbles fall through holes in the tubes and then into a connecting tube.  It was very exciting to watch and we knew when there were loud screams that a run had been successful! Two materials on this one-tubes and tape! Another win-win!

FOAM TUBES

STEM Challenge: Create a foam tube roller coaster with loops and curves! Check this blog post!
This challenge is, by far, the most requested challenge we complete. Kids cheer when they see it on the agenda and cheer constantly as these are built. The difference between this style and the others is one big thing: LOOPS!

Those foam tubes are flexible and can make loops for the marbles to travel on!

STEM Challenge: Create a foam tube roller coaster with loops and curves! Check this blog post!
These looping, curving, twisting foam tubes take over the large lab floor space and, like the above picture, sometimes we have to get creative when the tracks cross paths. This is another very simple STEM challenge with very few materials. You can read more about it here:

As you can see the fabulous roller coaster challenges are definitely unsurpassed!

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