Roller coasters: a follow-up project

As a follow-up task to this listening activity on how roller coasters are designed, this time I asked the students to:
– design a roller coaster within the school premises
– provide both a front view and a site sketch plan
– think of its use(s) and analyse its impact
– be ready to defend the project and share it in a formal presentation!

The main reason for choosing a highly improbable type of project was to throw in some creativity that would spark discussion among students and allow them to experiment in different ways.

My students are studying some basic physics, so before starting their work in teams of four, I encouraged them to take their knowledge into account, together with the information in the video we had worked on. The most scientifically inclined students did bring in plenty of information and discussion related to actual physics. There was even some interesting emergent language such as “centripetal force”, “kinetic energy”, “potential energy”, “acceleration” or “inertia”, used all over during the project. (They, of course, sometimes had to rely on conveniently placed pulley systems and state-of-the-art braking systems to be able to explain how it worked.)

Some teams went as far as to include details, such as the type of cars on the roller coaster or how it would look from the inside.

Once they had finished their sketch designs, I asked one of the language assistants I work with, who has a major in marketing, to introduce the students to the world of marketing. He went over the 5 Cs (company, customers, competitors, collaborators and climate) and the 4 Ps (product, price, promotion and place), and even explained the mechanics of elevator pitches. This helped them to plan their presentations, taking some new concepts and ideas into account.

In the end, each team prepared short presentations to sell their project. One student introduced the project, while two others explained the design and how the roller coaster worked, including the physics behind it. Finally, one student closed the presentation by trying to persuade us that their project should be carried out in our school.

Overall, the project allowed the students to experiment with critical thinking, problem-solving, cooperative work and presentation skills, all while exploring their creativity.

Can you guess the most common use that teams gave their roller coasters? 😉

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