Materials List: Mathematically Designing a Frictional Roller Coaster

Each group needs:

  • polyethylene pipe wrap insulation, such as Armacell Tubolit half-inch x 6-ft length for ~$1 from Home Depot; although foam pipe insulation material that is larger than the half-inch size can be used as the coaster rails/channel, the half-inch size is more flexible
  • vinyl bullnose archway corner bead, such as Clark Western ¾-in x 10-ft length from Home Depot for ~$4, which will be cut into approximately one-inch segments; alternatively, use some other material/way to provide L-bracket-type support to attach the curving half-pipe insulation rail to a cardboard backing
  • 1 corrugated cardboard or plastic sheet, 3 x 4-ft size works well; note; large pieces of cardboard can be scavenged from large bicycle and appliance boxes; alternatively, have students tape together smaller cardboard pieces (see Figure 13)
  • a few glass marbles, half-inch diameter; make sure the marble diameter is less than the internal diameter of the pipe insulation so the rolling marbles have only one contact point with the insulation surface
  • masking tape (1-inch thick) and super glue, for adhering pipe insulation to itself and to cardboard/plastic backing
  • scissors and/or utility knife, for cutting pipe insulation and vinyl corner bead
  • yardstick or 1-meter ruler with inch-scale markings
  • computer with Microsoft® Excel® and PowerPoint®, or similar software applications
  • Project Rubric, one per group
  • A Frictional Roller Coaster Pre-Quiz, one per person
  • (optional) 2 x 4-foot pegboard with one-inch-apart drilled holes, used as a mat to make it easier to graph/draw points on the cardboard backing

To share with the entire class:

  • projector and computer to show the class the A Frictional Roller Coaster Presentation, a PowerPoint® file, including some online videos
  • kitchen scale, or other small scale capable of measuring the mass of a marble in grams
  • (optional) capability to take photographs and/or videos of the roller coaster models in use
https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/ind-1996-frictional-roller-coaster-design-project-calculus