How do you feel about roller coasters?

Do you look forward to time when the fair comes?

Do you enjoy ging to amusement parks?

Do you have a favorite roller coaster?

Did you know that the anniversary of the an early roller coaster’s opening in Coney Island is coming soon?

From Thinkfinity‘s Today in History Calendar on June 13:: LaMarcus Thompson’s Switchback Railway, an early roller coaster, opened on Coney Island in 1884.

“Thompson’s Switchback Railway at Coney Island is generally considered the first roller coaster in the U.S. In January of 1885, Thompson received U.S. Patent #310,966 for the “roller coasting structure” that he had built at Coney Island the previous year for only $1,600.”

I sat in a 5th grade planning meeting earlier a couple of months ago, and they were talking about the roller coasters students were being challenged to build. There were certain requirements but the students were able to use some imagination to see what might be possible.

I wonder what types of challenges students had when creating these roller coasters?

I wonder how teachers managed to facilitate these creative endeavors?

I know this was an integrated unit, and I can see how math fits in this project. How do you think they used Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science with the project?

What are some thing you do or would do if you had students doing a roller coaster project?


Here are some ideas from some Content Partners of Thinkfinity:

In Competing Coasters (3–5), students view photos of roller coasters from around the country, and then predict which coaster is faster, which is higher, which goes further and which takes longer to ride. They then look up data on another Web site to check their predictions.

Roller coasters are among the many attractions at theme parks like Disney World. In Planning a Trip to Disneyland or Disney World (3–5) and Planning a Trip to Disneyland or Disney World, Part Two (3–5) students practice mathematical skills of estimation, data collection and problem solving to plan a trip to Disney World or Disneyland.

Science NetLinks
LaMarcus Thompson’s original roller coaster literally coasted down a ramp. In Ramps 1: Let it Roll! (K–2), students explore ramps, discuss why different ramps work better than others and practice procedures for testing designs and recording results.

Students design, build and test their own ramps in Ramps 2: Ramp Builder (K–2).

Discover how far roller coasters have come from Mr. Thompson’s early effort in Where is the Fastest Roller Coaster? (PK-6).

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