Gravity And Motion Investigation | Marble Run Roller Coaster Science And STEM

Grade Levels
3rd - 6th
Formats Included
  • Zip
22 pages
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Add this engaging activity to your forces and motions unit. Students participate in an investigation and STEM Activity about marble roller coasters. A memorable experience students will talk about all year. It uses simple, easy to find supplies, that are reusable. Teacher background and tips included for success.

Students will learn about forces and interactions by following the scientific method to learn about gravitational potential energy. Students will use hands-on learning to discover the words energy, work, kinetic energy, gravity, and gravitational potential energy. After investigating students will follow the engineering design process to build a roller coaster that meets specific criteria. Students must define the problem, test, redesign, and share how to build their roller coaster.

By the end of the activities student's can answer the question:

Does the height of a marble affect the distance a cup will travel?

The journal meets the Next Generation Science Standards

  • 3rd Grade Forces and Interactions
  • 4th Grade Energy
  • 3rd-5th Grade Science and Engineering Practices.

Teachers will love watching the students discover the vocabulary instead of just memorizing. Teachers will find the materials easy to find and work with. Teachers will like having the choice of completing 1 or 3 trials. The differentiated pages are included. Teachers will find the background information and tips are thorough and helpful. Teachers always wish they had more time because the kids will want to build all day.

This hands-on investigation and STEM challenge includes:

  • Video Explanation
  • Next Generation Science Standards Correlation
  • Teacher Background Information and Tips (including vocabulary and laws of energy)
  • Activity 1 Science Journal
  • Choice of two data tables. Depending on ability students can do 1 trial or 3 and Calculate the average. Both pages included.
  • Roller Coaster Design Challenge Description
  • Roller Coaster Design Challenge Student Pages
  • Answer Keys

Supplies needed

½ inch pipe wrap insulation (available at hardware stores and inexpensive)

masking tape, paper cups, ruler, tape measure, books or blocks, paper, marbles, scissors, and other items that may help hold the coaster together.

Great for the classroom, Classroom STEM Fair Projects, science clubs, scout groups, homeschoolers, and anyone wanting to learn about forces and motion.

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Yours in Science,

Kimberly Scott

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Total Pages
22 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 days
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects. Examples of practical problems could include the impact of collisions between two cars, between a car and stationary objects, and between a meteor and a space vehicle. Assessment is limited to vertical or horizontal interactions in one dimension.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. Emphasis is on descriptive relationships between kinetic energy and mass separately from kinetic energy and speed. Examples could include riding a bicycle at different speeds, rolling different sizes of rocks downhill, and getting hit by a wiffle ball versus a tennis ball.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. Examples of empirical evidence used in arguments could include an inventory or other representation of the energy before and after the transfer in the form of temperature changes or motion of object. Assessment does not include calculations of energy.


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