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How do I make a rollercoaster out of foam tubing?

A foam-tube marble roller coaster is an easy-to-make educational toy that will teach your child about velocity, potential and kinetic energies, gravity, friction and slope. Two roller coasters is an invitation to friendly competition.

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Cut each length of foam pipe insulation into two U-shaped sections. The tubes will have a factory cut nearly through already. Complete that cut and then cut directly across.

Tape the two pieces end to end so that you have a 7.2 m (24 foot) U-shaped length of foam insulation.

Tape one end of the foam channel to a wall about 1.2 m (4 feet) from the floor.

Construct the roller coaster by bringing the foam from the wall to the floor at a steep angle and then forming a 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 inch) loop. Tape the edges of the loop together. Make a stack of books on the floor and pass the foam over them, forming a hill. Continue making loops, turns and hills as desired.

Drop a marble through the channel starting at the wall. Experiment with the angle of the initial drop and the steepness of the hills until the marble will complete the track.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 sections 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inch) diameter foam pipe insulation, 1.8 m (6 feet) long each
  • Utility knife
  • Masking tape
  • Tape measure
  • Books
  • Glass marbles

About the Author

Shaunta Alburger has been a professional writer for 15 years. She's worked on staff at both major Las Vegas newspapers, as well as a rural Nevada weekly. Her first novel was published in 2014.

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