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Roller coaster inquiry lab is “hands-on” learning experience at Frances Mack Intermediate School

Gaston, SC - At Frances Mack Intermediate School (FMIS), Ms. Miranda Cox’s and Mrs. Alicia Krise’s fifth grade classes investigated the effect that balanced and unbalanced forces have on the motion of objects by building and testing roller coasters! This activity provided students with the opportunity to think critically about the effects of gravity, acceleration, deceleration, friction, position, direction, and speed. This has led students to a deeper understanding about forces and motion, and the teachers have noticed students engaging in collaboration, problem solving, creativity and innovation.

Several students shared their thoughts about the activity. “The purpose of our roller coaster inquiry lab was to learn about the forces in motion. We also learned about change of direction, gravity, and acceleration. Before constructing our roller coaster, we had to design it and answer questions about it. During construction, we had to make changes to get our marble to go all the way through the roller coaster,” Gavyn Smith commented.

Daniel Vargas Barradas said, “The best part of our inquiry lab was being able to test the roller coaster to see what we needed to change in order to be successful.” Edlyng Bonilla added, “At first our roller coaster didn’t work. We had to fix it three times until we finally got it to work, but we never gave up!” Justin Johnson also expressed his enthusiasm. “In the beginning it was hard to design a roller coaster. Testing it was fun, but it was a great feeling when we finished and knew that it would work. The biggest thing I learned was that gravity will pull you down, but with a lot of speed you can go really fast!”

These learning experiences are just one of the many ways students in Lexington Four are expanding their skill sets and creating pathways to future success in their high school careers and beyond.

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