Marble Roller Coaster Lab (Styrofoam)

Roller Coaster Name:

Your Name:

Team members:

Purpose: Your goal is to design and build the wildest roller coaster ride that will deliver a marble safely to the end. You must at least demonstrate three successful consecutive runs.

Criteria: Your roller coaster should have at least

·  2 hills (min height: 10 cm), 2 turns and 1 vertical loop (min diameter: 15 cm) (extra credit for extra loops, hills or turns). Do not combine hills and turns. Hills must distinctly go up and come down. No Tunnels!!


·  6 ft x 2 length of insulation tubing (Home Depot item # OEP11838, 1-1/8” x 3/8” OR OES7838, 7/8” x 3/8”. Available in the plumbing aisle)

·  scissors

·  tooth picks

·  glue & tape

·  support material like wood sticks or paper cups

·  standard size poster board

·  marble

Procedure: You and your team will design your roller coaster and must submit your design first for approval before starting your construction. The poster board will serve as a base and the foam tubing will serve as the track. These can be cut to fit your design. Your coaster needs to be designed and constructed with the criteria mentioned above. You will need to make Potential energy and Kinetic energy estimates. For this you need to measure the height of the roller coaster from where the marble starts to the base where the marble ends its trip. You also need to estimate the velocity of the marble as it rolls off at the end. The entire group must make the demonstration in front of the class and also speak on their project for 5 minutes. You will talk about the history and physics of roller coasters, and your team’s experience in building it. Your roller coaster must have a theme and the class will vote for the most decorated roller coaster, which will get a bonus of 5 points.

Rubric: No loop, No Hill, No turn: No grade

2 Hills 2 Turns 1 loop - 40 pts

2 Hills 1 Turn 1 loop - 35 pts

1 Hill 2 turns 1 loop - 35 pts

1 hill 1 turn 1 loop - 30 pts

0 hill 1 turn 1 loop - 25 pts

1 hill 0 turn 1 loop - 20 pts

------0 loop No points

Design Plan/Workmanship 15 pts

Presentation 10 pts

Calculations / Conclusions 20 + 5 = 25 pts

Theme & Decoration 5 pts

Removing Roller Coaster from class 5 pts


Summative: Device + Design Plan+ Theme = 40 + 15 + 5 = 60 points

Formative: presentation + w/s + teamwork = 10 + 25 + 5 = 40 points


Mass of marble (kg) = m =

Track Height (m) = h =

Horizontal Distance traveled (m) = dx

Height of the table (m) = dy

Time t (sec) =

Velocity (m/sec) v = dx / t =

Potential Energy (Joule) = m.g.h =

Kinetic Energy (Joule) = ½ m.v2 =

Energy Lost (P.E–K.E) =

%Efficiency = (K.E/P.E) x 100


1.  When was the first roller coaster made?

2.  Which is the world’s highest coaster?

3.  What do you think happened to the energy lost during the coaster ride

4.  Identify all the forces acting on a passenger while going through a loop.

5.  What scientific laws & facts are being demonstrated during the marble ride?

Roller Coaster Project Rubric
Looking For… / Way! /

Part Way


No Way



Presentation / Well presented, covers the history, physics and team experience. A powerpoint or poster also shown. / Reading from paper, some parts missing, lacking seriousness while presenting / Missing major parts of presentation, laughing, or making a joke of the presentation / Physics,
Formal presentation
Confident & Coherent
Roller Coaster / Has all the appropriate number of hills, loops and/or turns. 3 successful trials in a row / Missing some of the requisite features. 2 successful trials in a row / Missing a loop. Trials not successful most of the time / Features
Design Plan / Design shows creativity and application of physics principles / Design not imaginative, and shows application of some physics principles / Some random twists and turns with no understanding of physics / Design
Workmanship & Theme / Neat finish, painted and well decorated. Has a well defined theme. / Wobbly, lacking paint or finish. Theme is not apparent or silly or unappealing / No theme, Structure unstable / Workmanship
Calculations / All parameters noted accurately. Calculations done correctly. / Some calculations done wrong. / Parameters not noted correctly. Large errors in calculations / Calculations
Conclusions / All questions answered fully and correctly / Some questions answered correctly or partial answers / Answers wrong or show lack of understanding / Conclusions
Remove Roller Coaster after wards / /5