April 3, 2014

Building Roller Coasters

I spent time subbing in a middle school science class this week and they were working on a STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] project.  The concept had to do with energy.  The last time I had been in this particular class they learning about potential and kinetic energy.  Now they were putting everything they had learned into practice.

In teams of 3-4 people, they were given a task to design a roller coaster that was safe, worked, and was fun.  They teams were given a budget of virtual money and they had to purchase or rent the supplies needed to build the roller coaster.  For instance, tubing cost $1.25; marbles were 25 cents; and a measuring tape set them back by 50 cents.  If the team decided to use a prop of some kind, like a wall or a box, they were charged a dollar.  However, as the team made refinements to their plan they wrote it down and modifications earned them 50 cents for each one.

Most groups worked extremely well together.  They had already done their beginning planning and were going to build the day I was subbing.  I was amazed at the creativity.  There were loops, and double loops, hills, and jumps on these roller coasters.  Students were engaged as they tried their roller coaster out with the marble and then made any adjustments needed to make it better.


What a fun day watching our future at work !  

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