Thrill Ride

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, learners will build a roller coaster for a marble to run on using everyday household materials such as paper towel or toilet paper rolls, cups, boxes, books, buckets, chairs, etc. Participants will use the materials to design their own courses and will use the steps of the design process to make changes to their structures. Particpants can make loop-de-loops, hills, twists and turns for their roller coaster track.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Game, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • marbles
  • 6' foam pipe insulation tubing, 3/4" or 1" in diameter (2 halves per kid)
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • various props: boxes, books, chairs, buckets, cups
  • toilet paper tubes (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • WGBH

Source Collection

  • Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2009

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0813513
  • Public television viewers