Seaside Holidays activity 9: build a rollercoaster
Children research the entertainments available in Victorian and Edwardian Folkestone, including the Switchback Railway (or Scenic Railway) a wooden rollercoaster on the Lower Leas.
They learn how rollercoasters work, then design and construct their own working model.
Knowledge and understanding of seaside entertainments including rollercoasters and other fairground rides, how they work and how to build them. Skills in rollercoaster construction and the increased confidence in having achieved a successful outcome.
KS1-3 Science (forces, wheels, how things move, gravity, friction)
KS1-3 Design technology (design and build a rollercoaster)
KS1-2 History (Local Area Study, seaside holidays).
Children explore Folkestone’s seaside entertainments using Learn with Objects Seaside holidays 11: entertainments.
They explore the early history of rollercoasters and rollercoasters today. How have things developed since the early days?
Research can include investigating the Scenic Railway at Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest surviving rollercoaster, a very similar design to the one that was at Folkestone.
The class then discuss and explore how rollercoasters work thinking about some of the following questions:
- How do rollercoasters work?
- Do they have an engine?
- How do they get to the top?
- How do they get to the bottom?
- Why don’t they fall off when they’re upside down or going round corners?
- What kinds of energy and forces are involved at different stages of the ride?
- How is friction kept to a minimum?
- How do they stop?
The following websites are useful in answering these questions.
Pupils then use this website to discover how to build a simple rollercoaster using pipe insulation foam tubing, sticky tape and marbles:
There’s a simple video showing them in action, lots of information about the science, plus worksheets, which can be adapted for different abilities, and are free to download.
You’ll need to prepare the foam tubing IN ADVANCE
Adults to do this in advance as it involves using a craft knife. Instructions for this are included.
Build a rollercoaster
The children are divided into small teams and asked to design a rollercoaster ride.
Show them the video and the materials. Explain what they need to do, and what they need to record as evidence:
At the end of the session the different teams show off their exciting rollercoaster designs.