Physics: Paper roller coaster project!
In the past, I have tried to just press on through more content in my regular physics courses. After wrapping up conservation of energy, I tackled circular motion and dabbled in basic circuits. But it always felt like I was physically and mentally dragging them through it. I was in desperate need of a project accessible to the comfort-level of these students who struggle with mathematically intensive work and can shut down quickly when they decide there's no path forward.
My current solution is the Paper Roller Coaster Project! Here are the phases of the project:
- Students follow the provided instructions and templates (printed on cardstock paper) to create key components: support structure (beams, columns, shelves, etc.) and track (corkscrews, turns, loops, and funnels). (~3 classes)
- In groups (3 is ideal), the students assemble the roller coaster meeting the requirements. Here is my project packet so you can see all the details and how the SBG system fits into the project. (~3 classes)
- Each student sketches and measures their roller coaster in preparation for theoretical velocity calculations. (~1 class)
- Each group runs an experiment using momentum and energy concepts to determine how much energy is lost in their roller coaster!