Lilla E. Green - Hartigan Community Arts Specialty School
Let's Outrage The Bull
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Lilla E. Green Hartigan Community Arts Specialty School
8 West Root Street
CHICAGO IL 60609
This lesson is designed for grades Kindergarten - 8th, for a
thirty-five minute, once-a-week science lab period. The main objective of
this Mini-teach is to:
(K - 2) understand principles of energy - kinetic energy vs. potential
(3 - 5) construct a model roller coaster and demonstrate kinetic
energy and potential energy
(6 - 8) design and explain how a model roller coaster uses
acceleration, momentum, gravity and principles of potential
and kinetic energy
All pupils will be able to relate these principles to everyday life. They
will also be able to understand the effects of weight and speed in regards to
These materials are designed for groups of four - five pupils, in the
intermediate - upper grades. The Kindergarten - 2nd grade teacher should
demonstrate the construction of the model roller coaster, eliciting
suggestions from their pupils, in regards to the design of the class roller
Each group needs:
12 - 15 ft. of pipe foam insulation overhead projector
3 - 4 marbles videoclip of "Roller Coasters"
duct tape / masking tape VCR
model roller coaster
* 4-5 12" x 12" tagboard squares * a chair, or table
Vocabulary list: gravity, friction, energy, kinetic energy, potential energy,
momentum, acceleration, laws of motion, Isaac Newton
1) View a three - minute video clip of Nova's "Roller Coasters" or
Bill Kurtis' New Explorer's "Physics At the Amusement Park."
2) State the problem the pupils need to explore and have a model of the roller
coaster on the blackboard or overhead projector.
Problem: How can I design a thrilling roller coaster ride that stays on
track? (For K - 2, have a model roller coaster on the demonstration table.
Have pupils volunteer to demonstrate changes they'd like to make in the
3) Pupils will share their hypotheses (guesses) of the problem.
4) Give each group the materials and assign them the problem of proving that
their design is the best, most thrilling ride. Their ride must include at
least one loop in the design, and it must stay on the track.
5) Have the pupils show where the marble has potential energy, kinetic energy,
where it accelerates and where gravity keeps the roller coaster on track.
Their explanation needs to be clear - both to the class and on their group
6) They must describe their winning design to the class.
In Kindergarten - 2, pupils will draw the roller coaster, and use
arrows to show the marble's trail from start to finish. They will write a
sentence that shows they understand that the higher you start off........ the
farther your marble will roll before stopping.
With grades 3 - 8, observe how pupils work together. Note whether they put
side motion to their track design. This shows they understand how to develop
momentum and acceleration. Have pupils share orally and visually with the
entire class. They must summarize their results, using their definitions of
the principles of gravity, acceleration, potential and kinetic energy and the
laws of motion.
Pupils conclude that the higher the inclined plane is (the place where the
marble begins its descent), the more energy can be stored. Their winning
diagrams pinpoint potential energy, kinetic energy, gravity and acceleration.
All pupils should understand that potential energy is at the start of the
first hill, and acceleration and momentum begin at the bottom of the hill.
Kinetic energy carries the marble through its course of loops, but as it runs
out of energy, it slows to a stop. This is an informal assessment which
measures group collaboration and social behavior as well as their
comprehension of vocabulary terms.
An "AskEric Lesson Plan" - Downhill Discoveries, by Marty Stallings
*email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the pupil worksheet in the Scientific Method