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Paper Roller Coaster

  • Due Date
  • 1st Period (Seniors): Tuesday, May 23
  • 3rd Period (Seniors): Friday May 19th
  • 8th Period (Seniors): Wednesday, May 24

  • 1st Period: Tuesday, May 23rd
  • 3rd period: Thursday, May 25
  • 8th Period: Wednesday, May 24
  • REmoval Date

    Your roller coaster must be either removed or thrown away by May 31 at 1:10 pm. Even if I do not have you in class that day. 20 points will be taken off, if project is still in my room by 1:10 that day. 

  • Paper templates will be supplied. Our template packet consists of white support structures and blue track. If you want different colors you must supply card stock or cover stock, NOT PAPER, in the color you want. 
  •  Card/cover stock is 65 lb to 110 lb paper. Regular paper is 20 - 25 lb. It is not thick enough.
  • Online videos showing how to make the various pieces will be supplied.
  • Other materials you must supply
  • Magazine
  • Ball point pen (a ball point works best.)
  • 12" ruler
  • 1 roll of transparent tape (Scotch™ tape)
  • Scissors
  • 1 piece of foam core 12" by 24" (You can substitute 1/4" or thicker wood that is 12" x 24".) 
  •  Poster board or paper is not allowed for the base.
  • 1 marble

    The coaster must be built on a base. Foam core board is the easiest material to use. It is available at WalmartKmartTargetCVSJoAnn Fabric and CraftsThe Dollar Tree, and Michael's -to name a few stores. The base must be exactly 24 inches long and 12 inches wide -no less, no more. These dimensions have been chosen to make construction easier and to ensure that you don't bite off more than you can handle. The track and curves may extend slightly beyond the columns and beams supporting the ride. This means the track itself can go slightly beyond the 12 x 24 inch base dimensions. (If you need help cutting the board, bring it in!)

paper Coaster Track Construction Videos
Paper Roller Coaster Constructions Tips (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper columns (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make and attach the horizontal beams (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make and attach the diagonal supports (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster: How to make the paper tracks (YouTube Video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper loops (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the shelves that support the track (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the funnel (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the merge (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the turns. (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper coaster switch (YouTube Video)

Your roller coaster is to have something on it that uses power from a battery.
  • The battery powered device must be turned off due to the motion of the marble OR turned on due to the motion of the marble. It can also turn on and then off if you want to design it that way.
  • The battery voltage cannot exceed 9 Volts. 
  • You may use NiMh, NiCad, or an Alkaline battery type of any voltage between 1.5 and 9 Volts. No car, marine, lawn mower, motorcycle, or "PowerWheel™" batteries are allowed.
  • The battery powered device cannot generate heat or start a fire as its primary purpose.
  • Your devise cannot plug into the wall or use an AC adapter.
  • Your devise cannot do anything that might be dangerous.


Every entry starts with 100 points, next to each bullet below is the number of points you could lose by not reaching the associated design requirement.

Use the list below as a check list; turn this in with your roller coaster.

  •  Inspection/Off Task Behavior: All supplies put away, roller-coaster has been put to the back of the class, any scrap pieces of paper have been cleaned up, etc…: (2 pts per day)
  •  It needs to work without helping the marble along and by starting the marble from rest. (2 pts)
  • At least 2 loops (3 pts off per missing loop)
  • The smallest dimension on the base is to be exactly 12" (2 pts)
  • The largest dimension on the base is 24." Track pieces cannot extend more than 3 inches beyond the boards dimensions.(4 pts)
  • Maximum height is 30.0 inches (0.762 meters) or less for the track. Decorations may exceed this height. (2 pts)
  • Vertical column at every corner and at least one vertical column in the middle of the base's longest dimension. (4 pts)
  • Two diagonal supports must be used where each vertical column touches the base. They are blue in the animation. (4 pts)
  • Your coaster must have a name. (2 pts)
  • After it has been shown to be a successful design, one of the vertical supports, (the tallest,) will be pushed sideways. The rest of the coaster should not sway when this is done. Follow design instructions illustrated in the animation and this will not happen. (5 pts)
  • Horizontal beams must make a ring around the vertical supports as shown. The rings can be at the same height or at different heights. The animation shows green beams as different heights. (3 pts) 
  •  The coaster must have at least one dip that is at least 4 in, (10 cm.) The dip is measured from the bottom of the dip to the bottom the track AFTER the dip. This is depicted in the diagram. There isn't a template for a dip. Be creative and try using the loop-the-loop piece for a track.(3 pts)

  •  Must cross at least 3 times. Only straight pieces of track crossing over straight pieces of track are used in the crossover count. There are few unique exceptions to be decided by me. A piece of track can only cross over ONE other piece (A crossover consists of a pair that cannot be paired with another). A track is defined as the path a marble travels. In other words if three pieces of track stacked up on top of each other, then the top piece only crosses over the piece immediately below it. It does not count as two cross overs since the third track under it does not count. When in doubt, come see me with a specific question and picture. It also would not hurt your score to include extra cross overs. (6 pts)
Bonus points and judging

Best scenery ( +2 additional points ) (One per class)


Lots of quality scenery covering the entire coaster and platform. Spending money on fancy scenery will not automatically make you a winner. Simple, but clever or well done, "campy," designs show more creativity -especially when they support the name and theme of your coaster.

Best Theme ( +2 additional points ) (One per class)


What's the name of your roller coaster? Does your scenery support this theme? Does the design support your theme? Is there a coolness or cleverness factor to your name?

Most creative design element ( +2 additional points ) (One per class)


Looking for something different. You may use items not made from paper for this, or other parts different from its original use. You cannot use anything that was originally designed as a part of any kind of roller coaster toy.

Battery power. ( +2 additional points )


Something on the track that is battery powered AND is turned on by the marble. The battery powered device must stay on for at least 1 second. This year we are looking for the most creative battery element. None AP Physics C students can earn 1 extra point for incorporating battery power that follow the AP Physics C rules outlined below.

Crossovers ( up to +2 additional points ) (One per class)


The most number of crossovers.

Most complex design ( +2 additional points ) (One per class)


This is determined solely by the class

Longest Running Time ( +2 additional points ) (One per class)

To qualify for these points, your rollercoaster must not have more than 2 funnels.

Connected Coaster (+2 additional points)

 To qualify for these points, your rollercoaster must start the next groups marble from their desired height. Multiple marbles may be used.

Late projects are not eligible for extra extra-points from the "Best Scenery, Best Theme, Most Creative Design Element, or Most Complex Design competitions.
A roller coaster cannot earn more than 6 additional points above what is awarded for the project.