Roller Coaster STEAM Challenge


Let’s create our own thrilling ride! Roller coasters are one of the most popular attractions at amusement parks. For this STEAM challenge, kids will use their creativity, imagination, and everyday materials to design and create their own miniature roller coaster. (It’s really as cool as it sounds and is a hit with elementary and middle school students!) As they work together to plan, test, and complete their roller coaster design, they’ll also learn how to listen, communicate, and collaborate more effectively with others. 

After they complete the challenge, use the processing questions to help them reflect on what they have created and learned. 

Challenge: Using the materials below, build a roller coaster that includes at least one turn and can successfully transport a Ping-Pong ball or marble from the start to the end.

Suggested Materials: Cardboard, paper plates or cardstock paper, index cards, paper straws, masking tape, Ping-Pong ball or marble, scissors 

Time Limit: 30-45 minutes (you can increase the time for younger children)

Learning Outcomes: Creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, engineering, material properties

Processing Questions:

  • What was your favorite part of this challenge?
  • What was the most difficult part of the challenge?
  • What other types of materials could you have used to build your roller coaster?
  • If you could build your roller coaster again, what other elements could you add to your design?