Ball Bearing Roller Coasters and Teamwork Lab

Author: Brad Clarke
Lesson Plan:

Ball Bearing Roller Coasters and Teamwork


TEAM NAMES...___________________  __________________


                      ___________________  __________________


OBJECTIVE:         To design and "build" the largest (total height) 3 hill roller

                             coaster possible given 366 cm of tubing track and 3 BBs.


MATERIALS:        366 cm of clear vinyl tubing; 3 BBs; 2 or 3 meter sticks;

                             masking tape; test tube or small beaker; calculator; graph

                             paper; stopwatch (computer for graphs if preferred)



  GROUPS:             Groups of 4 people...1 head engineer, 2 assistant engineers,

                             1 recording/graphing engineer


PROCEDURE:        Divide the kids up randomly into groups of 4 with each group

                              determining assignments within the group.


                             Have kids come up with their own idea of what potential and

                             kinetic energy is on a roller coaster ride, and write it

                             down noting differences between the two and how one affects

                             the other on the ride.


                             Kids should brainstorm 2 different roller coaster configurations

                             each with 3 hills and 2 troughs and draw these from a side

                             view of how they would look.  Label as A and B.  Hypothesize

                             which will have the greatest potential and kinetic energy

                             overall and circle the letter.


                             Construct roller coaster A using the tubing and engineers holding

                             the tubing, insuring that the 2 troughs touch the ground and

                             that the beginning "hill" is between 60 and 120 cm off the

                             ground.  Experiment with coaster A changing hill heights and

                             widths of hill and troughs keeping hills similar to the

                             configuration in terms of which hill is highest, middle and

                             lowest.  Experiment until the BB coaster can make a complete

                             run all the way through.  Time three runs starting when the

                             assistant engineer counts "3-2-1-GO" and stopping the timing

                             when the "coaster" hits the glass at the bottom of the run.

                             (time to .01 secs)  Average the times.  Measure the 3 hills

                             from the ground up to the CENTER of the top of the hill in

                             the middle of the clear tubing "track" and add all 3

                             together.  Divide the total height of the hills by the

                             average time of the 3 runs.


                   Construct roller coaster B and do exactly as you did in coaster



DELAB:      1.   Which of your roller coasters had the highest score?  What do

                      you think caused the difference between the two different

                      coasters' scores.  (You might want to use the terms

                      "potential" and "kinetic energy" in explaining this!)


                  2.  What was the average score between the two coasters?


                  3.  ACCURATELY GRAPH your two roller coaster designs using a

                       horizontal and vertical scale equal to 1 square = 10 cm..

                       Label the hill heights on each graph.  If using a computer

                       to graph, make sure that your vertical and horizontal scales

                        are the same.



                  4.  Come up with at least 3 different extensions which we

                      might try with this lab.




                   5.  Did we work together well as a team?


                    6.  How could we have improved our "teamwork" in the lab?


                   7.  What was the hardest thing that we encountered in the



                    8.  If we were to completely redo this lab from the very

                       beginning, we would change....