Sanity Savers: Roller Coaster Wall

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by: Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Toilet paper tubes, glue, scissors, cardboard box

Sanity Savers: Roller Coaster Wall


10-15 minutes

Academic Subjects:

This lesson supports the following standards:
ETS1.A: Defining Engineering Problems- Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints).

Directions for Rollercoaster Wall:     

One of my favorite things to do at Explore & More is use the rollercoaster wall. I miss it so much that I decided to build my own! Here are the steps to build a rollercoaster wall.
1.) Gather a few cardboard tubes together. They can be gift wrap, toilet paper, or paper towel tubes. Don’t cut them just yet.
2.) Find a cardboard box with four sides. It can be a shoe box or in my case a granola bar box I cut in half. The box will need close walls because the marble is going to bounce off them and continue down the track.
3.) Decide on a layout for the rollercoaster wall. This will determine how big to cut your tubes. Visualize the rollercoaster by drawing lines where you will place the cardboard tubes. Each one needs to be diagonal and opposite of the last tube.

4.) Place the tubes against your cardboard box to decide how to cut them. Then cut each cardboard tube in half.  
5.) Put a little glue on the side of the cardboard tube and glue it right to the wall.  
6.) Repeat this process and place the next cardboard tube at an angle going down. Keep repeating until the wall is full!  
7.) Finally when the glue is dry, place a marble at the top and watch it go down the tubes! 

Have you ever wondered how rollercoasters work? Rollercoasters don’t have engines so they use different types of energy to drive all the way around the track. First rollercoasters need to get up a hill by either chain or other launch methods. As the rollercoaster car is going up the first hill it is building potential energy. Potential energy is stored energy that is going to be used later. Once the rollercoaster car gets to the top of the hill, gravity takes over and the car descends down the hill. At this point the potential energy changes into kinetic energy, which is moving energy. The car continues down the track using kinetic energy until the tracks hit the brakes and the car stops!


Engineer– a person who builds, or maintains engines, machines, or public works.
Gravity– the force that pulls two objects together.                   

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!                                           

Explore & More will be closed Sunday, May 26-Tuesday, May 28. We will be open for play again on Wednesday, May 29!