Monday, July 21, 2014

Paper Roller Coasters

Last winter I found this awesome web site called and it screamed summer library program.  I bought the templates, set up the program, and was ready to go.  My original intention was for everybody to make their own roller coaster.  Then I started my sample and realized that there was no way anybody could finish a roller coaster on their own in 60 minutes.  This is when I decided that we were going to make group roller coasters and display them in the children's area.

Supplies and Cost
  • Templates from$19.95
  • Foam board to support roller coasters-$17 (I bought 17 boards from the dollar store as I originally was going to register 17 kids.  You probably don't need 17, but I would have at least 2 per group.)
  • Marbles-$1
  • Card stock-I snuck this through on a supply order so it didn't come out of my budget.  You will need at least 2 reams of card stock for 17 kids.  I used 1 white ream for the support pieces and one colored ream for the actual coaster.
  • Scotch tape-I had a bunch of rolls in our craft cupboard
My grand total for today's program was $37.95.

When I set the program up, I decided on 17 kids because that is how many sets of copies I could make of the roller coaster templates with 1 ream of paper.  This works well as a smaller group program.  If you have a lot of volunteers, you could easily have more kids participate.

The Program
I started the program off talking with the kids about roller coasters.  We talked about what their favorite roller coasters had (loops, drops, etc.), then talked about how to make something similar.  The big buzzwords for the program were "energy" and "motion".  I pulled sample pictures off of the web site and we looked at how those compared to pictures of real roller coasters.

The kids had naturally sorted themselves into three tables as they came into the room, so these were our three groups.  My only rule of the day was that this was a group project and everybody at the table could participate.  I had all of the parts sorted on tables and told the kids that they were welcome to come up and use what they needed.  I had preassembled a pile of pieces to get the kids going.  Since this was science, not everything that they tried was going to work and it is okay if it doesn't.

These kids had AWESOME ideas.   Two of the groups wanted an extra board for their base (which we attached with duct tape) and they put it in different places.  They even came up with the idea of a tunnel that they made out of the beams. To reemphasize the team effect, each group named their coaster and the creators added their names to a sign that is propped up on each display.  Here are our finished coasters:

Drop and Swirl

The Health Warning

Stealth Dragon
What I Would Do Differently
The one thing that I would do differently is to either make this a 120 minute program or an all-day, drop-in program.  These kids wanted to stay and play with their roller coasters and their parents were ready to leave.

Highlight of the Program
We had a group of 4 parents who stayed in the room to help as needed.  They thought that the program was excellent since it promoted team work (even among those brother/sister combos).  One parent even said, "Your programs are normally very good, but when are you doing this one again?  We loved it."


  1. This looks great! What ages does this work best with? I have a K-6 program...too challenging?!

    1. I think so unless they had big kid helpers in their group. My group was for 7-12 year olds and the 7 year olds could just handle it. I am thinking that the next time I do it, it will be a Family Science day and they can work together that way. On the other hand, our teens now want to do this too. :)

  2. One more question: would you be able to do this as a multiple meet program (say every Monday for a month)? I don't have much storage room, but I think I could find some to store these each week for a month?! What do you think?

    1. Definitely! Plus, if your shelves (like nonfiction area) have a flat top, you can store them there. I have all 3 of our roller coasters out on display and so far nobody has touched them (knock on wood).

  3. Wow, I really like your post because the information which you given in this blog is really extra ordinary.
    paper coasters


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...