Roller Coaster Challenge

The 2017-2018 Roller Coaster Challenge

For the months of October, November, and December, the students in Room 1B are physical scientists as they explore balancing, spinning, twirling, and rolling with a variety of materials and experiments. In the process, they practice the Engineering Design Process and learn how scientists make predictions and keep records. 

In this unit, students use the Engineering Design Process to design, build, test, and redesign balancing toys, tops, and roller coasters using common materials such as marbles, foam, paper cups, and rubber bands This is an exciting and fun Science unit that gives children a basis for future understandings of simple and complex machines, velocity, acceleration, friction, and balance. 

On the final day of school before December break each year, the Room 1B students take part in a special Roller Coaster STEAM science challenge. Students are presented with the following problem: How can we design a roller coaster that is stable and works without anyone pushing or holding or helping it? They are given the following parameters and then work in collaborative teams to design, build, test, and redesign a solution to the problem. Beyond demonstrating their understanding of the science concepts, this challenge also calls on students to work in teams, discussing, negotiating, problem solving, supporting, and finally celebrating their success.  

The curriculum frameworks addressed in this project come from the both Massacbusetts’ Science Frameworks* and the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards

A. Massachusetts 2006 Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks Pre-K to Grade 2 Position and l Motion of Objects
1.3. Describe the various ways that objects can move, such as in a straight line, zigzag, back-and-forth, round-and-round, fast, and slow.
1. 4. Demonstrate that the way to change the motion of an object is to apply a force (give it a push or a pull). The greater the force, the greater the change in the motion of the object.

B. Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards for Grade 1
•CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
•CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
•CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1b Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
•CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1c Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.

*The State of Massachusetts has adopted new Science standards which will be implemented in the 1st grades in the 2018-2019 school year. The standards addressed in this project are from the previous standards.