pringer Public Schools’ Lucy Knight has created an innovative way to teach her freshmen physical science class through making roller coasters. Students made three roller coasters from scratch through K’Nex sets called Firestorm Freefall, Thunder Strike and Sorcerer’s Eclipse, ordered through Amazon.
Kayla Webb and Grayson Smith said their favorite part about the project was the teamwork and that it was a unique hands-on experience compared to other classes.
The goal of the project was to help teach students Newton’s Laws through hands on activities.
“We like to always study Newton’s Laws first so we can get a grasp on exactly what they are and then you have to put it into real world perspective or the kids aren’t going to be attached to it,” Knight explained. “That’s why I like to study and get all of our vocabulary and theories done and then let’s apply it. So that’s a different level of learning. It’s higher-level learning.”
She was a trying to achieve critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills and troubleshooting through this first-time project.
“I think kids these days don’t get enough opportunity to do that. For example, when we built our roller coasters, some of them said they lost the pieces. I said you didn’t lose the pieces. You put them in the wrong spot. So we went back to our book and found, oh we put the wrong color there. Super cool, because they were frustrated and then they had that aha, oh I fixed it we’re good,” Knight added.
Roller coasters were chosen because they were able to be put together in approximately a week in class with groups of three to four using an instruction manual.
“I liked the building and the constructing, but really the only difficult part about it, other than messing up on the directions was the track,” Decoda Morriss explained.
His partners Harley Shikle and Tatum Jolly agreed and said the most fun part of the project was working as a team and that they had to pay close attention to the directions.
The three sets of roller coasters cost just under $400, paid for through a grant Knight wrote through donorschoose.com  
The team of Haley Albertson, Reagan McNeely and Ricky Smith stated that putting the pieces together was their favorite part, that they found the track easy, but getting the structure to stand difficult.
“We had to learn teamwork and to communicate. We love teamwork,” Smith joked.
Students learned data analysis, friction, kinetic and potential energy and more.
They were so proud of their work they wanted to take the coasters home. Knight said she will continue the project next year since the students enjoyed it so much.