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A teachers section includes printable lesson plans for before and after the roller coaster simulation. Students can create accounts to save their work without giving their last names or email addresses. After using Coaster Crafter, you might take students to visit a real amusement park, arming them with questions about what design elements would make certain coasters faster, slower, scarier, or less scary.Continue reading Show less
Coaster Crafter starts with a fun narrative about the owner of an amusement park and his daughter, who need help designing better roller coasters. They watch demonstrations of the simulator, which shows design flaws in several coasters. Then, in a series of lessons called Design Challenge, they correctly answer questions, which are clearly expressed with words and images, about relevant physics vocabulary (momentum and kinetic energy, for example). Correct answers unlock different types of track pieces and customizations they'll use later. Students must complete each step before moving on, and they receive feedback on the accuracy of their answers.
Coaster Crafter is a great tool for teaching students about force and motion. On the whole, it does a great job of using virtual experience to teach somewhat abstract concepts. The science content and vocabulary may be too advanced for most sixth graders, but older students should be able to work independently. Teacher resources are adequate; adding a way for teachers to gather assessment data would make this an even better resource.
In Coaster Challenge, students tackle practical problems by dragging and dropping track pieces and modifiers (chain drives for lifting the coaster and lubricant for reducing friction) and testing their ideas. This stage is a lot of fun, and it's well-designed to keep students from skipping ahead. Sometimes the challenges are difficult, but the program helps struggling students by gradually reducing the number of pieces available. Free Play is the last stage, and it's a playground where students can design and test their own roller coaster ideas. Students use the pieces they've unlocked in the Design Challenges, so this is a reward for completing the more instructional sections. Students can customize the look and sound of their coasters, and to save their work they can create an account.
Key Standards Supported
Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.