Teacher's Guide

Using Coaster Crafter: Build. Ride. Scream! in the Classroom

For Your Own Lesson Planning
Coaster Crafter: Build. Ride. Scream! features a wide range of short animations that depict both good and bad coaster designs. Access them directly here so you can build lessons around them for your students.

While Coaster Crafter: Build. Ride. Scream! engages students and gives them the chance to learn about and explore key STEM principles in a fun virtual setting, students will, of course, benefit the most if the game is used in the context of the work you do with them everyday.  The game can be used to introduce ideas and content or to review material that you have already taught your students. Likewise, it can be used in all kinds of settings – the classroom, the computer lab, the home or anywhere else where student have access to the Internet. Coaster Crafter: Build. Ride. Scream! gives you lots of flexibility to use it in the ways that are best suited for your particular students in your particular learning environment.

To help you get started, here is a sample lesson plan to use with the game and a set of resources that will help you extend the learning.

Roller Coaster Census

Use this database to help students look at the world of coasters… statistically.  Suggest that students review the information in the database, using self-generated questions such as Where (continent/country) are the most coasters located?  What are the most popular coasters worldwide? In their country? What are the top ten fastest coasters in the world? Then encourage them to use the data contained here to construct a data set of their own and chart the data to support their analysis. 

Lesson Plan: Do All Objects Fall at the Same Speed?
Download the PDF of this lesson plan and help your students learn the answer.

On the Curve

While coasters depend on the properties of force, momentum and gravity, among others, geometry plays a big part in determining the quality of the ride.  Explore curves and their effect on coaster design, developed with the help of a U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant.

And once your students have gotten a taste of what it is like to design a virtual roller coaster, why not offer them a chance to use the design process to create the model coaster of their dreams?

Balloons,  Blimps and Newton

PBS’s Design Squad offers a unit that explores Newton’s Laws and force through the perspective of helium balloons.  You could use this resource to expand your class’s experience in looking at the key principles of force and motion in the game.  Teacher notes, student activity guides, and videos that illustrate the design process are available in Unit 3 of the Teacher Guide for this series.

Hands-on Activity: Building Roller Coasters

Hands-on Activity: Building Roller Coasters gives some suggestions for building a model using foam tubing and marbles. The site also provides project specifications and a scoring sheet for the finished products.  

Students can access background on the engineering decisions that go into the design, manufacture and installation of coasters. The UK site Tech It Out also offers students a very clear description of the design process they should follow in completing their own models.