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Carolina STEM Challenge®: Roller Coasters Kit

Item # 750036 Exclusive

Grades 6–12. Explore roller coaster physics for a hands-on experience in energy transformation. Teams evaluate the descent of a sphere through loops, turns, and hills on a foam insulation track, then extend that knowledge to engineer the best structure for the class challenges of highest hill, largest loop, or max velocity.



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Grades 6–12. Unleash Newton's laws as thrill-seeking design teams explore roller coaster physics for a hands-on experience in energy transformation. Teams evaluate the descent of a small sphere (wood, glass, or steel) through loops, turns, and hills on a foam insulation track, then extend that knowledge to engineer the best structure for the class challenges of highest hill, largest loop, or maximum velocity. Use this engaging engineering activity to explain the forces behind the fun—potential and kinetic energy, energy conservation, acceleration, and laws of motion. Materials support 10 design teams. Each piece of foam pipe insulation is cut in half lengthwise, yielding thirty 6-ft track pieces per kit. Final size of the roller coaster will vary, depending on how students design and build the roller coaster to meet the goals of the challenge. Includes instructions.

  • This item is only available from Carolina Biological Supply Company.
Components Qty Included?
Foam Pipe Insulation, 6 ft long 15 Included
Steel Balls 10 Included
Wooden Balls 10 Included
Marbles 10 Included
Masking Tape 2 Included
Teacher's Manual and Reproducible Student Guide 1 Included
Ring Stands 10 Needed, Not included
Metersticks 10 Needed, Not included
Stopwatches 10 Needed, Not included
Cups 10 Needed, Not included
Utility Knife 1 Needed, Not included
Scissors Needed, Not included
Boxes of Various Sizes (optional) Needed, Not included
Carolina STEM Challenge®: Roller Coasters Kit 4.3 5 6 6
Modifications to the Judging The students should compete at grade level and the same category. For example, middle schoolers should compete against other middle schoolers not with high schoolers. Also, roller coaster design should not compete with other designs. May 6, 2013
My students had a blast making roller coasters and the materials were great Next time give a better description on the video portion of the activity and make the competition with high school students against high school students and middle school against middle school May 6, 2013
Execution Issues with the Roller Coaster Challenge We participated in the STEM Challenge this year. In terms of the kit, it's great! The students loved figuring out what type of ball would be best to use on their coaster and they really enjoyed constructing the coaster. I liked the insulation material so much I purchased more for the rest of my classes to use and we will use in future years also. The Challenge itself was...a challenge. There were little specific instructions about requirements. Some groups could focus on the largest hill, others the largest loop. In the end they were judged on both items. There was no strict guidelines on where the coaster could begin - the warm-up activity made it seem like our competition set-up had to follow the 48 cm starting height but many submissions had coasters that started close to the ceiling of the classroom. If there are no rules (except to build one loop and one hill) then that should be stated in the directions. We were fearful of disqualification and so we played it safe. Also - it seems there should be extra points awarded for teams that are able to construct additional "tricks" in their track with a successful completion. And finally, the skill sets of middle schoolers and high school students can be vastly different. They should not be competing against one another in the competition. In the email stating the winners all were from high school type institutions. Like skill sets should be judged together. The email also had first place was a roller coaster team, second a balloon race car, and third a catapult team. Were these three kits being judged against one another? If so, how is that possible when they are so different? Thank you for listening... May 4, 2013
Product is great for all students This product allows students of all ability levels to gain knowledge about science, technology, engineering, and math, and it fit in so well with our discussions of potential and kinetic energy. All of my students - even low-achieving - were thrilled to get the opportunity to work with their hands and build a working roller coaster. They took so much time and pride in their work, and they fought valiantly to win their individual classroom competitions as well as an overall grade winner to be entered in the state contest. I would love the opportunity to use these kits again! May 3, 2013
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Carolina STEM Challenge

Carolina STEM Challenge® Physical Science Series

Engineer excitement with NEW kits for middle and high school physical science that:

  • Incorporate STEM concepts
  • Promote creativity, team building, and fun
  • Encourage interest in science

Easily integrate exciting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities into any physical science curriculum with Carolina STEM Challenge® Physical Science Series kits. They engage and inspire students with fun real-world design challenges in an exciting tournament-style format.

Hands-on activities center on engineering concepts and practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. Design teams design, build, test, and modify their prototypes to provide an innovative solution to the class challenge. These activities strengthen students’ critical-thinking and creative problem-solving skills, while encouraging creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.

Designed with ease of use in mind, Carolina STEM Challenge® Physical Science Series kits have the materials and information needed for classroom success:

  • Warm-ups and demonstrations
  • Science content
  • Literacy extensions
  • Notebooking options
  • Grading and scoring rubrics

Correlations to State Standards

Select the appropriate set of options below to view standards met by this product. After making selections, please do not use your browser's "Back" button to return to previous steps. Instead, use the blue links such as Content Unit Search to go back to a previous step in the search.

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