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Test your knowledge of physics by making your own roller coaster. You can
make a roller coaster out of just about anything, but below you'll find a list
of materials to use as cars, to make tracks, to support your tracks, and to make
hills. You may find some materials work better together than other materials,
especially depending on the size of your track and cars.
Materials: This table gives you a list of suggested materials to use as cars,
tracks, adhesives, and supports to make your roller coaster. You will not use all
of these items, but hopefully this can help you make your roller coaster with
items you already have and/or can easily obtain.
||Foam insulation tubes
What to Do:
- Spherical objects such as marbles and ball bearings tend to make the
best "cars" for your roller coaster. The size of the marbles/balls needed depends on the type of material you use for your tracks. For
instance, while vinyl tubing works well to make tracks that bend and curve,
only small objects like B-Bs and ball bearings can actually fit in most vinyl tubing.
However, vinyl tubing is probably the easiest material to make tracks with, so we recommend
using it for your first attempt at making a roller
coaster. Most hardware stores carry vinyl tubing in a variety of sizes, so
test your cars to make sure they can move through it before you purchase it.
- If you use poster board or cereal boxes, cut out long strips
to make your track. You may have to build walls or sides to keep your car
from falling off.
- Whatever material you use, build your track so that the cars can run smoothly on it - no cracks or seams
that will trip up the cars.
- Use the adhesives to connect track pieces together as well as connect
the track to your support system.
- Remember the laws and forces of motion when building your roller coaster
track. Your first hill must be the tallest to build up enough potential
energy to get your car through the track. Adjust hills and loops so that the car will have enough
velocity to make it
through the course without having so much speed that it flies off.
- You may want to try several different cars with different sizes and
weights to see which car moves through your track the best.
You may find it very tricky to build the track just right so that the car can
make it all the way through without falling off. Ride makers of roller coasters
face these same challenges: how to make a fun, thrilling ride that is also safe.
But by following the laws of physics, ride creators can make rides both fun and safe
without a lot of trial and error, which is a good thing for the riders!