How to Build a Marble Rollercoaster With 3 Hills for School Project

Written by dawn marcotte
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How to Build a Marble Rollercoaster With 3 Hills for School Project
First Hill on a Roller Coaster (roller-coaster image by Pefkos from

Marble roller coaster experiments provide practice with potential energy, kinetic energy and gravity. Building a roller coaster demonstrates the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy is never destroyed but only changes states. This energy is measured in newtons. Students with advanced math skills can determine the potential energy of their marble by multiplying the weight of the marble and the height of the vertical drop the marble takes. Build a roller coaster with three hills using foam pipe insulation and other items from around the home.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 6-foot length of 3/4-inch diameter foam pipe insulation
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Cardboard square 4 feet long
  • Paper cup
  • Small marble

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    Marble Roller Coaster

  1. 1

    Cut the foam pipe insulation in half to create a total of 12 feet of foam track. Tape the two sections together with masking tape. Apply the tape along the underside of the track. Determine where the roller coaster will be built. This model is not mobile and must be built in the classroom. The beginning of the roller coaster should be 3.5 feet off the ground.

  2. 2

    Cut a strip of cardboard four inches wide from the cardboard square. Fold in half to create two legs that can stand on a flat surface. This will be the first support for the coaster. Cut a second strip of cardboard four inches wide from the cardboard square. Cut this strip in half to create two 2-foot lengths. Fold one in half for the second hill support. Cut the other section in half and bend to create the support for the third hill. Cut a small half circle in the top of the each support to prevent the track from slipping off.

  3. 3

    Measure up from the ground 3.5 feet and tape one end of the foam pipe to the wall or table to maintain this height. Bend the tube gently up where it touches the ground and place the 2-foot support underneath for the first hill. Gently bend the tubing up again and place the 1-foot support underneath for the second hill. Repeat for the smallest hill. Place the paper cup on the floor at the end of the track so the marble will roll into it.

  4. 4

    Test the roller coaster with the marble. The size of the marble will impact the energy so the hills may need to be adjusted slightly. To make the hills smaller, spread the legs of the supports slightly.

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