How I Use It
I use Coaster Creator in high school Engineering and Technology classes, to teach science concepts needed in engineering and to reinforce the design process. I start it as an inquiry activity in which students try different designs and then get feedback on what worked and what didn’t. Most students (and teachers) do not get a successful roller coaster on their first try. I have them record their initial points in the different categories and use the feedback provided to make a plan for improving the roller coaster. I expect all students to be able to create a successful roller coaster. Some students really get into the game and I encourage them to get as many points as they can for their roller coaster designs.
A variety of games can be accessed for free through the GameUp section of BrainPop. (No subscription is required for the games.). Coaster Creator is not only my favorite game on brainpop, but also my favorite virtual roller coaster. It allows for a variety of different approaches and learning styles. Information and tutorials are available and appear in both text and audio form, but students can just jump in and start designing a roller coaster. Kinetic, potential, and dissipated energy, height, and velocity are all tracked as the coaster progresses along the track and I point this out and use these terms when I give students feedback on what worked and what did not on the roller coasters they designed.