Wk.#4: Forces in Motion – Newton’s Roller Coaster

Week #4: Forces in Motion – Newton’s Roller Coaster


  • Observe forces acting upon objects at rest and in motion
  • Recognize examples of mechanically stored energy
  • Discuss examples of potential and kinetic energy
  • Design, construct, and modify a model
  • Evaluate points of stress and potential failure within a structure and improve upon them


  • Learners discussed examples of testing gravity.
  • Learners examined examples of stored mechanical energy and kinetic energy.
  • Learners reviewed Newton’s laws of motion and constructed a simple Newton’s cradle to explore the relationship between applied force, acceleration, and mass.
  • Learners explored the forces required to keep objects in an upside down bucket.
  • Learners designed, constructed, and modified a structure that had to include at least three elements from a marble drop, a loop, a 90 degree change in direction, or push a toy, and then drop into a cup.

Questions to Discuss

  • What are three devices you use that use stored energy to make them work?
  • What are three things you can observe when energy is doing work? (hint – think of what you might observe when a device is plugged in)
  • What are at least two forces that keep a kicked soccer ball from rolling forever?
  • Did it take more effort to spin the bucket when it was empty or when it was full?
  • On your roller coaster, where was the marble moving the fastest and the slowest?
  • Where did you marble jump off the track the most? How did you modify things to stop that from happening?
  •  What changes did you make to your roller coaster that made it different from your original plan?
  • Why was it important to start your roller coaster with the marble dropping? Could it start at a point lower than the loop?

Things to Try at Home

  • While riding in a vehicle, close your eyes and try to use your other senses to determine if you are speeding up, slowing down, going around a corner, or even how fast you might be going. What clues did you use?
  • Learn to juggle or interview someone who already knows how. Describe how the balls move (where are they fastest or slowest) using words or pictures.
  • Write a poem or song that helps you remember Newton’s Laws of Motion.
  • Choose three toys or devices that need energy to work. Where does each one store the energy? How do you add energy to them?
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