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Student Projects

Kinected Coasters

Author: David Gillingham

Grade: 8th

Subjects: Engineering, Math, Physics

Kinected Coasters: Project Photo
Kinected Coasters: Project Photo
Kinected Coasters: Project Photo
Kinected Coasters: Project Photo
Kinected Coasters: Project Photo

How do we build grit and craftsmanship in ourselves and our community through the lense of physics and making?

How will the transformation of energy impact a marble as it travels through a rolling ball sculpture?

Our students explored the Law of Conservation of Energy by constructing marble roller coasters out of 12 gauge galvanized steel wire.  Through the construction and design process, our students explored the dynamic nature of energy and performed calculations to determine how much kinetic energy, potential energy and velocity the marble possessed at each significant moment in their roller coasters.

This project is a hands-on exploration of energy. Students will meld art, physics, mathematics and elements of design and engineering to build a rolling ball sculpture. The purpose of the sculpture is for students themselves to design a model that illustrates how energy transforms when an object is presented with different circumstances related to mass, height and velocity. Engineers and artists will be given all the necessary tools, materials and content to design a 3 foot tall and 4 foot wide marble track that successfully transports a marble from the beginning to the end that is designed and constructed completely by hand. In addition, students will perform calculations at different points on their sculpture in order to explain how it functions at those specific location.


Kinematic Physics

-The Law of Conservation of Energy

-Potential and Kinetic Energy

-Acceleration and Velocity

-Energy Transformations

-Centripetal force

-Radial acceleration

Technical Skills

-Brazing with Butane Torch and Solder

-Precise Wire Bending

-Wire Heat Shrinking

-Wire Straightening Techniques


-Solving Multi-Step Algebraic Equations

-Unit Conversions


-Complex macro and micro design

MS-PS3-1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
MS-PS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.*
MS-PS3-4. Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.



Give examples of linear equations in one variable with one solution, infinitely many solutions, or no solutions. Show which of these possibilities is the case by successively transforming the given equation into simpler forms, until an equivalent equation of the form x = a, a = a, or a = b results (where a and b are different numbers).



Solve linear equations with rational number coefficients, including equations whose solutions require expanding expressions using the distributive property and collecting like terms.


-Parents, Family, Peers at HTMMA’s Exhibition Night

-The HTMMA Community for years to come

This Upcoming Year: Elementary School Students, Board of Engineers and Professionals

-Students learn advanced fine-motor technical skills

Extensions- Workshops from outside professionals, Maker’s Place field trip, students teach others students in different grades how to use tools.

-3 ft by 4ft Steel Marble Rolling Ball Sculpture

-Graphic Novel illustrated and written by students based on a fictional character who was impacted by the historical event or character they studied

-Think-Tac-Toe individual projects

-Team Kinematics Test as ticket to begin building

-RBS Tags Individual Physics Calculations

-Conversions Math Assessment

-Post Exhibition Reflection on Digital Portfolio