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Science Rocks!

Roller Coaster


your results

Sent in by:
Kirsten of Kensington, MD

Make a marble loop-de-loop on a track that you design.

Materials Needed

  • marble
  • oak tag
  • tape
  • books
  • cup



  1. Build a roller coaster using a marble, oak tag, tape, books, and a cup.
  2. Cut the oak tag into strips that are 2 inches wide and 11 inches long.
  3. Tape these strips together to make your roller coaster track. The marble will be the cart that travels along the track.
  4. You can use the books to build hills and ramps (or you can use a staircase).
  5. You get 3 points for each U-turn, 5 points for each loop, and 1 point each time you make the marble go up a hill.
  6. If you can get the marble to fly through the air and land in a cup, you earn an extra ten points.

How did you build your coaster and how did it work? How many points did your roller coaster have? What did you have to do to make the ball go faster or slower? How did you make the ball turn? How did you get the marble to land inside the cup? If a life-sized version of your roller coaster was built, would you want to ride it? Use our ZOOMsci feedback form to tell us about your design.

Some of your Results

Tytania, age 14 of Pointblank, TX wrote:
it was great we did it as a class it was fun. thanks Zoom

Llednar, age 15 of Orlando, FL wrote:
My coaster was pretty cool. I live next to a hotel, which is run by my dad's friend, and my friend and I had to do a roller coaster project like this one. We designed our roller coaster as simply one drop ramp from the top of the 67 story hotel elevator shaft, but we made it so that our ball did 157, 683 loop de loops. We clocked the speed as the ball rolled down the path, and it reached over 90 mph! When the ball reached the bottom and left the track, it flew a little below 7 8ths of a mile before landing in the small cup we set up. We couldn't believe it landed where we thought it would, with all the uncontrollable variables (wind, objects etc.) but we did it! We tried it again 2 weeks later, but it didn't work. Still, it was pretty cool when it worked (although the math we had to do to insure it did work was hard.

Tyrie, age 10 of Lake Butler, FL wrote:
It went so fast it flew off its' course.

Micah, age 6 of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
it worked and I was so excited about it.

Brock, age 11 of Opelika, AL wrote:
We did the roller coaster experiment for Fun Friday. My team's roller coaster had a u-turn and went into a cup at the end. We had 4 try's and our final score was 39. We got second place and it was very fun.

Zoom Fan, age 16 of Lynwood wrote:
I had track down the stairs and part of the track spirelled I had 100 loops sencie my hoce is three stories altogeter I had 890 points

Angel, age 14 of Richmond, VA wrote:
It fell apart

ZOOM Fan of Monterey Park, CA wrote:
when I built it I i used 1/4 inch copper pipe insulation and when I did a loop it worked so fyi using pipe insulation with the upper part of the pipe cut off works

Brooklynn, age 8 of Gilbert, AZ wrote:
it fell of the track the first time but it worked the next time!

Lily, age 11 of Portland, OR wrote:
You have to build a roller coaster completly out of paper. It works really well. It has to be at least a foot tall and 2 by 3 feet. Also it has to have a thrill like a loop de loop or something that makes the marble use energy.

Bob, age 4 of Austin, TX wrote:
45 loops and worked

Amy, age 9 of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
it kindof fell apart then the next time it worked!!! (Whoooo!!!)

Sarah, age 6 of West Hartford, CT wrote:
When I scored 4 times I had 40 points. It was fun. I didint have a marble so I used a small ball.

Kayla , age 10 of Loomis, CA wrote:
I did it because I want to see how tall and one roller coasterthat eas tall I test it and the number of how tall it was 62 in.

Sean, age 5 of Farmington, MN wrote:
Well at first the boxes fell apart but then I fixed it up and it went really really fast and I didnt expected to go that fast

Erin, age 9 of Shelby, ND wrote:
When I did it my rollercoaster had 20 hills and 14 jumps after that I decided to take it to school and my class loved it so, they wanted to do it too!

James, age 11 wrote:
My auntie helped me with this roller coaster. We spent 2 days on it. It had 1 loop, 1 hill, 1 a little ramp to make the marble fly up in to the air and land in to a cup and 1 really big drop!!! When we first tryed it did not work so we had really focus on it and eventually it worked!!! It was made out of paper and cardboard because we did not have any oaktag!!! All together I had 16 points!!!

Brice, age 11 of Yankton, SD wrote:
My friends and I made racing coasters and they had tubes of plastic. We used B. B's and they went faster. Because we had a big drop and a loop it was a pretty short ride but if I went on a life sized coaster just like that I would be scared to death.

Jonathan, age 10 of Northport, NY wrote:
I used a tube and some movements. Then when I was done I put my marble in the tub and... it worked!! Then I draw it with a sharpie marker then I took it to school. And thats why I did my coaster.

Jesse, age 12 of Sanford, FL wrote:
It had 14 hills 6 jumps and a couple of other things too. I ended up having 92 points.

Elizabeth, age 11 of Comstock Pk, MI wrote:
Well my roller coaster was a marble one. Frist I tock funal foam and made it as a roller coaster and then I had jumps, hills, lops, and spirals. Then I make sure everything was ok so I tried it a coupel of times and then I droped the marble for the last tme and it worked.

Ashley, age 12 of Los Angeles, CA wrote:
To make a roller coaster. I used a ruler, one big box of clay, Wood blocks, some books, cardboard, a small toy car or a marble, tape, and another ruler. First I take one ruler and I stick it on top of the clay. Next I tape a book on the ruler, and I keep taping one book after another on till I reach the floor. Then I cut the cardboard and I tape the cardboard on the left and the right side. After that I chose the marble or the toy cars. Finally I test my project.

John, age 14 of New Jersy wrote:
I worked with a partner in a high-school project and my partner brought a bingo machine (you usually put papers in it and spin a lever, mixung the sheets, then a random paper comes out the bottom) and attatched it to a cardboard cereal box (we had no oaktag). We then added construction strips as ramps and covered the whole thing in plastic wrap (so we could see the ball without it coming out). We were able to do two loop-de-loops and we made 3 jumps, each landing in a coned container (that made the ball spiral until it reached the opening). I did not calculate the points, but we did recieve a 95/100 score for using Newton's Laws.

Patrick, age 8 of Long Beach, CA wrote:
It had a ramp and it went upside down.

Kate & Bella, age 13 of Spokane, WA wrote:
When we made it, it didnt work right away so we had to adjust some of the hills slightly, but then it worked perfectly.

Anais, age 10 of Glenda wrote:
When I did it it worked it was really cool seeing the marble go down the cardboard and I also made it go into a basket and I loved doing it!!!

Andrew, age 9 of Clemmons, NC wrote:
I used everything that was on the instructions... except for one thing that I had to use: STRING. I built the roller coaster under my bed (my bed is actually a loft bed so you can go under it and sleep under it [in case you're having a sleepover]) and I attached the string to the roller coaster and I attached the other end of the string to my bed and the marble I had didn't always make it through the entire roller coaster but I still had a really great time building it. Oh, one more thing: I still have it up this very second!!!

Michael, age 11 of Delson, QC wrote:
I made it go down and I made a lopdiloop!!! I did not use the instushins I used thike cardboard. l had to cut it so it can go round.

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