Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster Engineering Lab

Grades 4 - 8

What goes up, must come down! Explore gravity and energy by engineering a roller coaster on the Big Lab’s Giant Wall. Through experimentation, students will find that keeping some variables constant while changing others will be the key to keeping their material from flying off the track!

Roller Coaster

Learning Goals & Activities

Below are some of the questions your students may ask, and the scientific activities that will help them explore, explain, and elaborate on their understanding of roller coasters:

What force causes a roller coaster to move?
Discussion of gravity and other forces.

Do all materials travel down the track in the same way?
Hands-on experimentation with multiple materials/variables.

Does weight impact the speed or distance an object can travel?
Hands-on investigation of the impact of weight on carts traveling down ramps.

What types of energy are exerted in a roller coaster?
Discussion of potential and kinetic energy.

What techniques can be used to make the longest roller coaster or the most loops?
Hands-on engineering challenges to build and test roller coaster tracks.


California State Science Standards

4th Grade

Investigation and Experimentation: 6.a, 6.c, 6.d

5th Grade

Investigation and Experimentation: 6.b, 6.c, 6.d, 6.e, 6.h

6th Grade

Investigation and Experimentation: 7.a, 7.d, 7.e

7th Grade

Investigation and Experimentation: 7.e

8th Grade

Motion: 1.a

Forces: 2.b, 2.c, 2.e

Investigation and Experimentation: 9.a, 9.b