Gravity and Roller Coasters

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Students will be able to demonstrate how gravity works.

Big Idea

Students will create a roller coaster to demonstrate how gravity effects moving objects.


1 minutes

Warm Up

10 minutes

I will begin this lesson with a review of gravity. As a class, we will have a discussion about the force of gravity and it's effect on an object's motion. We will explore different technologies that rely on the force of gravity to move an item; such as a roller coaster. As a class, students will view the PBS video, Designing a Roller found on the following site:

Once the students have viewed the video, we will discuss how technology uses the force of gravity to make the the object work. As a class, we will discuss ideas on how we can demonstrate how gravity works. I will inform the students that today, we are going to create roller coasters to demonstrate how gravity effects moving objects.


25 minutes

Before students begin constructing their roller coasters, they will view the PBS Zoom roller coaster video. Allowing students to view this resource gives the students an idea of what is expected of them as they create and build their own roller coasters.

Next, I will group them into groups of four. Each group will receive cardstock paper, masking tape, and a marble. The marble will serve as the cart on the roller coaster tracks. Before the students begin to work in their groups, they will be instructed to take a look at their materials and determine how their groups can use the materials provided to work productively to demonstrate how gravity works. I will encourage the students to discuss the skills and techniques that they would like to use. I will ask the students to brainstorm ideas and create a plan to construct their roller coaster. They will record their plan in their science journal. Students will construct their roller coasters. As students are working, I will walk around and observe the students while asking leading questions. I am asking the students questions as they work to encourage deeper thinking. I want the students to understand how gravity will effect the marble at different heights, slopes, and speeds.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, students will present their roller coasters to the class. The students will explain what happens to the marble as it moves along the roller coaster tracks. I will encourage students to discuss how the height of the initial drop of the marble effects the gravitational pull on the marble. Each group will present their roller coaster to the class.