As part of our Spectacular Science series, constructing roller coasters was a good activity for builders and makers. It required ingenuity, patience, and a little luck. The object is to create a roller coaster using 3/4 inch foam pipe insulation, masking tape, and marbles. The roller coaster should have one loop and one hill. Ideally, the marble should end up in a cup at the end of its ride.
While our teens were a little reluctant at first, they were soon captivated, learning about centrifugal force, potential energy, and kinetic energy without even realizing it. They were even able to make a diagonal loop and a roller coaster with three loops. I had thought that we would have teams compete against each other, but people trickled in, so they completed their roller coasters in a more staggered fashion. At the end of the activity, all the tubing was compiled into one mega roller coaster, which was really cool.
Check out the cool video Scott made.