Things You'll Need
- Electric screw driver
- Screws or nails
- Popsicle sticks
- Scenery (optional)
- Miniature car
Just about everyone likes the intense sensation of zooming through tunnels and flipping upside down while speeding on a roller coaster loop after loop. Granted, this adventure might not be for some, but thrill seekers love a good roller coaster. And while scraping up pennies to build your very own dream theme park may be a little far fetched for some, to those of you with access to a few raw materials, it has never been easier or cheaper to design your very own roller coaster. What a fun way to learn about physics, no matter your age.
Find a large open space where you will have plenty of room to work. Accumulate everything you need to build your coaster and decide if you will be using paper, plastic or wood. Metal is also an option but could be hard to come by for some.
Paint the base and the other parts of the coaster before assembled and allow plenty of time for them to dry. The base can be virtually anything you choose, such as a piece of sturdy wood, cardboard, thick plastic, or something metal. Use your imagination. Whatever, you choose, be sure that it can support the entire coaster.
Pre-drill any holes needed to secure the base to the coaster if using screws. If using nails, you will need a hammer to drive them into the material. Super glue will be sufficient to fasten the base to the coaster if you are constructing your coaster from paper. The base should not require much assembly, if any at all. One solid piece of your chosen material should do. If you must cut your material to make the base, remember the adage "measure twice, cut once."
Construct the track out of old Popsicle sticks, which can be accumulated by consuming Popsicles or by purchasing them at an arts and crafts store. Super glue will secure the Popsicle sticks together the best. Do not be afraid to make twists and turns. Build the track in pieces and later attach them to the base. You may also add any scenery you desire which may be glued around the base. This is optional. To give the coaster a realistic look and feel, add tiny figurines, trees, flowers, concession carts, benches or other pre-made theme park attractions.
After the entire coaster is assembled, add the miniature car. Depending on the size of the coaster, you may also use a marble, golf ball or a rubber ball commonly found in gum ball machines in lieu of the miniature car.
Be sure to have your camera ready to take video of the coaster's first test drive. This is when you will be able to notice any changes that are needed to make the coaster function correctly and having the recorded footage will allow you to see any mishaps that you missed during your initial viewing. Make these changes, and your coaster should be ready to show off to those other thrill seekers and make you look like a genius.
Be sure to have extra pieces of your base and track. It can be easy to make a mistake and need additional materials. Keep in mind how big you want the track to be when using the popsicle sticks. You will more than likely want to cut the sticks if they are bigger than you desire. Be sure to cut them all the same length. Believe it or not, some off the most unbelievable homemade roller coasters are made of paper. It is very inexpensive to make, and if you make a mistake, it is very easy to obtain replacement paper.
Pay extra attention when using super glue. It is very easy to glue your fingers together. Always practice safety.
Meka Jones, from Cherokee, Ala., began writing in 2009. She is a faculty member at Shelton State Community College and has written for "Shoals Woman Magazine" and various online publications. Jones is pursuing a Ph.D. in exercise physiology at the University of Alabama and holds Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in physical education from the University of North Alabama.