- large marbles
- foam pipe tubing, cut in half lengthwise (2 halves per child)
- foam pipe insulation is ideal (1-inch diameter works well for large marbles), which can be found in hardware stores; these can be cut in half to make open troughs
- masking tape
- various props: boxes, books, chairs, buckets, cups
Key Science Concepts
- An object placed on a ramp will roll, slide, or stay put.
- A rolling object will move faster down a steeper incline and slower down a less steep incline.
Encourage children to use terms such as roll, bounce, bump, steeper, less steep, flat, steady, and wobbly, and science process words such as observe, predict, test, record, compare, same, different, problem, solve, solution, and change.
Tell children they will work in pairs and build a roller coaster for a marble.
- Challenge children to build a roller coaster track with both a hill and a turn using the tubing materials given.
- Have them test their marble on the track and redesign if necessary. Help them to troubleshoot: Is the hill too steep or too flat? Is the turn too sharp? Is your track steady or wobbly? Test out different solutions.
Reflect and Share
Encourage children to share their discoveries, talk about their challenges, and describe how they solved their problems. How did they change the shape of their track to make the ball travel up and down the hill and make a turn? Help children to record their observations, ideas, and questions. Take photos or videos and encourage children to draw and write about their constructions.
If children have mastered the hill and the turn, they may want to try a loop-de-loop, or an idea of their own. Two children may want to combine their track to make a longer roller coaster.