Investigating gravity with marble roller coasters
Mrs R Peterson and a team of Year 10 students at Stamford High School took on the ‘Science Buddies‘ marble roller coaster challenge, investigating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).
Using cardboard cut-outs students pushed the boundaries of the examples provided, with one group creating a 12 section coaster (despite the example only challenging them to use 4).
Students took into account the amount of gravitational potential energy their marble started the run with to design a run accordingly, ensuring the marble kept enough kinetic energy to reach the end with minimum losses through friction.
After many escaped marbles (and lots of hilarity), with seconds to go both marble courses were completed and marbles finished the track.
Mrs Peterson, Teacher of Science, said: “The students were surprised at just how challenging the task became, as a lot of supports were needed for some of the more gravity defying course features, and at just how much analysis was required by the end. We measure the length of the runs, and timed how long they took, calculating the marbles speed, finally evaluating the process to suggest improvements if we were to try the task again.”
“If anyone wants to try this at home, you can visit the link here!”
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