8th Grade PBL Highlights



Imagine building something by a deadline. That can be very stressful, especially if it has to function. Well, that’s what’s happening to the 8th graders at Dana Middle School, they have been working hard to build their roller coasters. They must design the roller coasters, make them work, and do their best to get the technical merit as high as possible. On top of that, they are required to create a presentation and a commercial to advertise their roller coaster.

So let’s start from the top. Initially, you had to pick a theme for your roller coasters. Then you decorate your roller coaster with the theme. The students have been working hard adding the decorations to the roller coaster. Their theme can be stuff from the Boston Tea Party to the Gold Rush. Then they create a design that has to do with the theme. The colors must also match the theme. So far they have been working hard to finish. “I like working on the design of the roller coaster, it’s fun even though it can be stressful sometimes.” Stated an 8th-grade student who is part of this project. That is true especially with the Knotts trip coming up they will have to hurry.

Besides the theme and decorating you also have to think about the functioning. In order to qualify, your marble has to go through your roller coaster from beginning to end. And your technical merit has to be pretty high to beat the others. The average would be around 4000 technical merits by multiplying the loops, time, and height. Multiple schools will be at Knotts competing as well. Funnels, corkscrews, and switchbacks are beneficial components to think about when designing your roller coaster. They increase the technical merit and the time. With the design, you have to think carefully and fix it constantly.

Lately magnets 8th graders have not only been building roller coasters but creating a presentation or advertisements for them. The project started when we were supposed to create a roller coaster for Knotts Berry Farm. The first part of building the roller coaster is completed. Now we just have to “sell” it. So the students have been working on their presentations and if they want to “sell” their roller coaster then their advertisement has to be intriguing so people are interested.

All of this has been a lot of work. But the most challenging part is over. Soon the eighth graders will go to Knott Berry Farm to compete in their roller coasters and rubber band-powered car and in other available competitions.