The freshman physical science class came to school last Monday and witnessed the horror of gravity’s wrath. They had spent part of the previous week building “roller coasters,” and while gravity is essential for the wood, paper, and tape structures to function, it was also their downfall. A long weekend of cooler temperatures weakened the adhesion of the tape causing catastrophic structural failure. So, that Monday morning was a shock to the system of our budding engineers.
They were not downtrodden for too long, and like the phoenix began to rise from the ashes. Lessons were learned, like, maybe my base should be wider than the top, I could possibly connect my structure to the base in more than one place, and maybe using lighter building materials would be better. I was happy to see their resilience. They came in early, before school, during study halls, and even (gasp!) after school.
Our students have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I believe that they have come out the other end stronger. They have learned persistence, flexibility, and how to think outside the box a bit. I love doing activities like this one that lets the students use their creativity while also demonstrating understanding of our scientific concepts. The students were allowed to use popsicle sticks, straws, masking tape, and notecards.
I look forward to the finished products and the intensity of test day. To earn a 100% they must build a coaster that is 2 feet tall, has two loops, 3 turns, and 3 hills. All groups are striving for that perfect score and I think that most of them will reach it. There are always unexpected results on test day, but I think this group will produce some quality projects.
Pictured is Joleen Vossler with her roller coaster.