Team Builder: Paper Roller Coasters


This is a great activity for the beginning of the year for team building.  This activity is done in teams of 4 and takes approximately 120-150 minutes so we suggest doing this over 2 or 3 class periods.  For the templates, go to or  For the bases, take a cardboard box and cut the different sides out and price them accordingly.  

If you desire, you can work with potential energy and kinetic energy with the paper roller coasters.  A resource for this is Forms/STEM/hs_PS_paper_roller_coaster.pdf

You can have the students keep track of how much money they spent or keep a live update on an excel spreadsheet for the entire class to see.  Set up a “store” (a table at the front with all the different pieces with their price) for the students to buy their components.  For the first purchase, have them fill out the order form and hand that in.  They DO NOT NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING AT ONCE!  After that initial purchase order, they may buy pieces as needed.  


Cut out each individual piece before the activity – This is will save the students a ton of time and makes keeping track of the items bought much easier.  We suggest having a student aide do this instead of the teacher, it takes a while.


Introduce employability cards – With this being at the beginning of the year, this is a great activity for the students to get use to employability cards.  This can also be their grade for the activity.


Trade a shoe for a marble to test – We have the students trade a shoe for the marble so they do not lose it or take it with them.

Have examples – Some of the folds and cuts are hard to understand how they go together so make each piece prior to introducing the activity.  This will also help them get a better understanding of what their end roller coaster will look like. 

2 Final runs – When it’s time for testing, give them two rounds to clock their best time.  After they have made their first test, they can modify their roller coaster while the other teams are being tested.  If the marble stops or falls off the track, that run is DQ.

Have prizes for first – Making it a competition always makes it more fun!

Paper Roller Coasters Student Worksheet

Your team has been chosen to construct a marble roller coaster for the new AMPED Amusement Park.  Like any other major project, you have a budget and a time constraint.  Your Budget is $45,000 (you must spend at least $30,000) and you will only have 2 class periods to construct your roller coaster.  Your goal is for the marble to make it from start to finish in the LONGEST AMOUNT OF TIME WITHOUT STOPPING OR FALLING OFF THE TRACK.  Once the marble is let go at the top of the ride, the time will start.  If, for whatever reason, your marble stops or falls off the track, your run will be disqualified.  You will have a total of 2 runs to clock your best time.


  • Structure Materials
    • Column – $2000
    • Brace – $1500
    • Base Support – $500
    • Shelf – $750
  • Track
    • Straight – $2000
    • Wide Turn – $1000
    • Sharp Turn – $1000
    • Funnel – $4000
  • Foundation
    • Varies depending on size

Before you are allowed to buy material, your team must come up with a plan to construct your roller coaster.  Draw a rough sketch of your roller coaster.

Please fill out your order form

ComponentNumber NeededCost of EachTotal Cost
Base Support   
Straight Track   
Wide Turn   
Sharp Turn   
Total Cost   


  • The best time out of the two runs was ________________ seconds.
  • Find the rate in seconds/$1000 spent.        
  • If you were to do this activity again, what are TWO things that you would have changed?