The Secret to Successful Roller Coasters!

8th Grade PBL Magnet Highlights


Do you like roller coasters? Do you like riding them? What about designing roller coasters? Well, that’s what the STEAM Magnet 8th graders are doing right now at Dana Middle School.

Example of a roller coaster in construction.

The 8th-graders here have gotten far in building their roller coaster. They have built supports, the first hill, and for some students, loops. They use many different materials to build the roller coaster such as, popsicle sticks, paper, cardboard, and toilet paper rolls. The roller coaster must be less than 85cm high. You get to design your roller coaster with a theme too. You can choose many different themes, though they have to be history related and there here are many interesting historical theme options to choose from. A student said “I really like the idea of adding a theme. It makes the whole process more fun.”  The theme must relate to American history. Some examples of themes you can choose are the Gold Rush, the Revolutionary War and many other important historical events.  You then get to use your creativity ands design the  roller coater however you want.

Roller coasters can be fun to build, but at the same time, they require a lot of patience, math, science, and historical knowledge. the 8th graders present their roller coasters to a public audience and compete at Knott’s Berry Farm. The students go to Knotts to compete, they are scored on their technical merit. The technical merit of the roller coaster is based on hoe many loops are in the rollercoaster. We also get scored on the first hill of the rollercoaster because it sets the velocity and speed.  Not only that, but you need to make sure it works. You use a marble to test the roller coaster. Sometimes the first hill is too steep or the loop is too big ,or even there is something in the way of the marble. Making it just right can take a while since you need to make sure it works while meeting all the requirements. Stay tuned for more updates as the 8th graders continue to design and build their rollercoasters!