How to Make Roller Coasters for a Science Fair Project

••• Taran Rai/Demand Media

Making a model roller coaster is a great way to study physics and the science around structural integrity. Kits are available commercially from such toy makers as Knex and Coaster Dynamix. But prepackaged kits may limit your design options or may be prohibited from a science fair. Verify any rules or parameters before choosing materials. Homemade models can be made with many different materials but the most common are toothpicks, balsa wood, Popsicle sticks and foil. Consider ease of use, cost and portability when choosing materials. Wooden materials are not usually flexible enough to build a model with loops or corkscrews. Determine the level of complexity of the roller coaster design before choosing materials.

Build a Model Rollercoaster

    ••• Taran Rai/Demand Media

    Review the roller coaster design plan completely before beginning. Plans can be purchased at a local hobby shop or online. The roller coaster plan should indicate specific measurements for placement of track. It should provide step-by-step guidelines on how to build the track, what types of materials are best and the finished size of the track. Follow directions closely.

    ••• Taran Rai/Demand Media

    Place Popsicle sticks for the ground level on a stable base and secure with glue. The base should be large enough to hold the final product without bending. Wood is the best base material because of its strength, but it may be heavy. Consider plastic, but verify that the glue will adhere to it without sliding. Measure carefully to ensure the Popsicle sticks for the track are parallel to each other, like a railroad track, so they will hold the marble safely.

    ••• Taran Rai/Demand Media

    Glue subsequent Popsicle sticks per instructions on roller coaster design. Follow the instructions on the design precisely to create the final roller coaster. Measure each placement as it is made. Use wire bread ties to hold each stick in place before gluing. Wait for glue to dry before building the next layer when necessary to prevent the Popsicle sticks from shifting

    ••• Taran Rai/Demand Media

    Test with a marble. Wait for the glue to dry completely before testing with a marble. Test each layer as it is built when time permits.

    Things You'll Need

    • Roller coaster design plan
    • Stable base
    • Popsicle sticks or other rail material
    • Glue
    • Wire bread ties
    • Marble


    • Use craft glue rather than Elmer’s glue to provide additional strength for the model. Use marbles of various sizes and materials to test speed. Add details such as landscaping for aesthetic purposes. If the model will need to be moved, choose a size of model that is easily transported.

Related Articles

Science Projects for Testing the Strength of Glue
How to Calculate Shrinkage Percentage
How to Do an Egg Projectile Project
The Best Ways to Make an Egg Drop
How to Build a Model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
How to Build a Rube Goldberg Device to Raise a Flag
Science Project Ideas & the Scientific Method
How to Write a Hypothesis for an Egg Drop Science Project
How to Create a Vehicle Crash Test Project
How to Build a Model Roller Coaster for a School Project
How to Calculate the Dimensions of a Carton
Science Projects for Testing the Strength of Glue
Successful Egg Drop Ideas
Science Projects to Make a Model of an Earthquake Proof...
How to Cut Petrified Wood Into Slices
How Do I Build a Maze for a Mouse for a Science Fair...
Egg Parachute Design Instructions
Rebar Size for Slabs
Precautions to Take When Using Micrometer Screw Gauge
How to Make an Egg Capsule Out of Straws

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!