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Curriculum: The Rollercoaster Challenge

By Tiana Kinross and Maddison Goodreid 

British Science Week ran from 10-19 March and Richard Lander School celebrated with a Science Fair and a Year 7 Rollercoaster Challenge.

On Monday 13th March the ‘L’ population participated in rollercoaster related activities for National Science Week, the ‘R’ population took part in the same activities on Tuesday 14th March.  The day was spent learning about the energy and science behind rollercoasters. 

Firstly, we investigated what makes rollercoasters work and how they get your adrenaline pumping. We shared what we like and dislike about rollercoasters. As well as this, we watched rollercoaster simulation videos.  After that, our class were put into pairs and we were given a laptop.  

Online, we designed and created a virtual working rollercoaster, it took some time as the rollercoaster was either too fast or got stuck due to the lack of kinetic energy or the overflow of gravitational potential energy. Our online rollercoasters consisted of loops and climbs that made our simulated riders scream with enjoyment. 

When it came to our main challenge, we were given £8.00 (not real money) to purchase our needed materials. We were in groups for this challenge and to start with we were provided with 3m of foam tubing and a single marble. We had to create a team name; there were many interesting names however we believe ours (Queen Bees) was the best. The materials that were available to buy were 1m of cello tape at 50p; cardboard boxes and lids for £2; zip ties which cost 50p but later got reduced to 25p and more. Our rollercoaster needed to have at least one loop and a height of 60cm or over, as well as this it had to slow down slowly towards the end. We successfully created a working ride with £1.50 left to spend. 

Our final activity was to produce a poster or leaflet advertising our rollercoaster. We imagined that we were trying to persuade Alton Towers to purchase and build our ride. In the end we learnt a lot and all agree it was an amazing, thrilling day. 

Tadiwa expressed his love for the day by telling us “I really enjoyed the day because I got to have fun with my friends whilst learning more about science!”  

Ellie Ansell, Rachael Griffiths and Sylvie Morrison added

‘All groups had to work together and use each other’s ideas to portray team work and leadership skills. After ten test tries to work out the average speed, it was time for the judging. Even though they didn’t all win every group worked hard and came up with fantastic ideas and rollercoasters. That was Richard Lander School’s Roller Coaster Day 2017.’

We hope that next year’s year sevens appreciate the day as much as we did. 

Richard Lander School