HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (5/14/14) — James Madison’s sixth graders took a full-speed ride through the concepts of force and motion with the help of roller coaster science.
“The whole point of the project is to use Newton’s laws to build this roller coaster,” said teacher Kia Zieba. This is the first time for the project, which is based on the new Next Generation Science Standards. Students worked in groups to build paper roller coasters, then sent marbles through the tracks to test them.
“One part of the standards is to build a model and explain how it works,” Zieba said.
Students Jeriah Hightower and Cole Lawrence built a double coaster with the names Tower of Death and Venom. “It was fun, but it was hard,” Hightower said. At one point, Lawrence said, the marble on their coaster gathered so much speed that it came off the track. In response, they added a wall to stop it.
Another group named their creation the “Flaming Chair of Doom.”
“We started out with just a basic design,” said Nathan Kelley. “For more structural support, we added beams.” Then, when the beam design was done, they took a closer look, and realized it looked like a chair.
One challenge faced by the group was the marble lacking enough momentum to complete an upside-down loop. That required a design change.Zieba plans for next year’s students to complete a similar project. The hands on effort helped students build scientific vocabulary, she said, as well as understand the related concepts.
Information provided by Lori Harrison
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