Supplies and Cost
- Templates from PaperRollerCoasters.com-$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.)
- 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
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.
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 PaperRollerCoasters.com 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
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."