In this roller coaster project, students use the engineer design process to design and construct roller coasters. The activity sheet challenges students to use important physics concepts in thinking about their design and build: motion, forces, Newton’s Laws, velocity, acceleration, momentum, centripetal force, gravity, friction, conservation of energy, energy transfer, potential energy and kinetic energy.
In this activity, students brainstorm individually and then work with teams to combine their design ideas collaboratively. The activity guides them through the individual sketch, the group collaboration session, the group session, the build, the modifications, the final design, the data collection, and the presentation.
The activity is engaging and challenges students in both designing, constructing, working with a team, and applying physics concepts. It could be used within a forces and motion or energy transfer unit, as well as an engineer design unit.
It is best accompanied with the "Roller Coaster Project Powerpoint" - posted for free, which includes video links, images, physics concept explanations, etc.