Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spark Saturday -- Energy Coasters

I hope everyone had a wonderful week!  I know that I sure did.  This week really FLEW for me.  We have 8 days left when we go back on Tuesday.  I can't believe it!

I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels For Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays.  What better topic is there to match up with "spark" Saturday than ENERGY???

As you know, this is the time of year (for those of us who haven't begun summer break yet) that us teachers have to pull out all the stops to keep our students motivated.  Earlier this week, I posted about a project we did in science in which we learned about potential and kinetic energy by building spool racers.  (You can read that post here if you missed it!)  This was a highly engaging and motivating learning activity for my kiddos and to keep the "energy" flowing (pun intended ;), I followed the spool racer activity up with Energy Rollercoasters.

Here's the deal....

Using about 6 feet of plastic tubing, masking tape and BB's, my kiddos had to construct a section of a rollercoaster on the wall to demonstrate how potential and kinetic energy and gravity move the BB through the section of track.  Their coaster had to have:
  • One "up" hill
  • One "down" hill
  • At least one loop
If their BB got stuck, they did not have enough potential energy built up to have kinetic energy take the BB to the end so they had to untape their layout and try again.

This picture demonstrates the ultimate goal....your BB having enough energy to make it to your cup.

When they were finished, the students sketched out their layout, identified the point of greatest potential energy and the greatest kinetic energy,  and filled out a reflection (which does not seem to want to load here...ugh!  My computer must be ready for summer break!).

I had planned on giving the students about 20 minutes to complete their rollercoaster layouts, but because they were having so much fun with it and kept asking if they could try another design or add more loops, etc., I just let them go with it for about 45 minutes.

I just love hands-on learning and try to load these last two weeks up with lots of activity to keep students motivated and learning.  I am excited to read what others bloggers do to keep a spark in their classrooms this time of year.  Why don't you head on over to Head Over Heels and check some out for yourself???

Have a great long weekend!


  1. This is great!! What a wonderful way to teach kinetic energy! I love that it had to have one up hill, one down hill, and one loop. I have to laugh at myself because I thought that looked like a bug in the cup at first and I was like, "What is a BB?" LOL!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  2. Love this lesson! And, you're right, this is the perfect time for these hands on lessons! I may have to go buy some plastic tubing today! Thanks for linking up and sharing a great idea!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. This is a fantastic idea, I can understand why your students would be so motivated to learn about energy. Thinking about the tubing I have sitting in my basement right now...

  4. I love this idea! I bet the students had a blast with this. I pinned it so I can remember to do it next year :)

  5. What a fun experiment! My kiddos would love to do something like this. I may need to be on the lookout for tubing this summer...

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  6. Fun! My son's GT class built roller coasters this week and it is all he can talk about! :) So, I can speak as a parent on this one...Awesome!
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  7. Hi Jennifer, what a very cool idea! Thanks for posting it!
    Doodling Around in 6th Grade


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