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Amusement Park Rides STEM Challenges

If you are looking for the most engaging projects possible in your STEM class for summertime events, I have some Amusement Park activities to share!

These four challenges are our absolute favorite challenges in my upper grades. Students beg to do these challenges over and over.

The four all have one thing in common! These are rides you might find in an amusement park. That makes this quartet perfect for late in your school year, summer camps, and summer school.

Are you ready to jump on a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, or waterslide? How about designing a prototype for a vertical drop ride? Let’s do this!

STEM Projects- students design and build 4 different summer amusement park rides. Detailed teacher's guide included.

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Are you ready for Amusement Park Rides?

I have 4 projects that are much-loved by students. They are all very engaging and will elicit cheers in the STEM lab as students experiment and try out these fun rides!

Roller Coasters

STEM Activity- students experiment with hills and loops of a roller coaster. Then they design a foam tube coaster that will safely move a passenger car on the track. Detailed teacher's guide included.

This activity is the top vote-getter for my students as their favorite challenge ever!

I use it with 4th graders and sometimes repeat it with 5th graders as a reward or a fill-in activity.

Students experiment with foam tubes to make a roller coaster. The first day of experimenting is all about hills and learning how the steepness of the first hill affects the roller coaster.

The second day is all about loops and, let’s be honest, that is really all students want to do!

For the design portion of this challenge, students must combine three foam tubes and create a coaster with at least 2 hills and a loop. The presentations are the most fun because every team will give their roller coaster a name and they also love to make signs for their ride. Death Drop, anyone?

“OMG!! MY kids loved this activity. I love how it was broken down into days. It made the whole project manageable and kept them on task. It was well thought out and was perfect for 4th graders.” -Stacey S.

Water Slides

STEM Challenge- students design and build a water slide to safely transport a small toy. Detailed teacher's guide included.

My third graders love, love, love this challenge!

Their goal is to transport a toy figure down a water slide. There is a rule you can use about making the slide have a turn in it or you can opt to design straight slides.

The slide must also have a way for the toy to climb to the top and I usually see a ladder made for this.

You also need some large cups for the water part of the slide.

Y’all, it always surprises me when I have teams that do not know how to put measuring cup of water. It’s not the measuring part. It’s the pouring part. They will pour all the water at the same time rather than a trickling stream and water splashes over the edge of the slide.

TIP: You will need some towels!

“My students loved creating a water slide and figuring out what didn’t work and why. Very fun resource for the hot days at the beginning of the school year.: – Patricia A.

The Egg Drop Ride

STEM Challenge- students build a prototype for an amusement park ride. A container of "passengers" must safely drop several feet without bouncing the passengers or crashing. Detailed teacher's guide included.

This Amusement Park prototype challenge is one I love! Students love it too and will cheer loudly when their ride has a successful drop.

Here is the premise of this challenge!

Teams are designing a ride that will drop passengers from a 100-foot-tall platform. The passenger carrier will zoom to the ground. The trick is the passenger car must stop!

And, it must stop without ejecting the passengers.

We use PVC pipe for the platform tower and the passenger car is made from 2 cups that fit over the pipe. (You can also use a broomstick.) For the passenger, we use ping pong balls and for the rides that work with those lightweight objects, we try something heavier – an egg!

Students try all sorts of ways to slow down the passenger car and ease it to a stop without throwing out the fragile cargo. #sofun

“My fourth graders absolutely loved this STEM activity and we only had two broken eggs!! Thank you for the great resource!” -Bethany W.

Ferris Wheels

STEM Challenge- students design and build a double-sided turning Ferris Wheel. Math skills needed! Detailed teacher's guide included.

Oh, my goodness, let’s talk about math. This challenge is full of geometry!

Students create a turning model of a two-sided Ferris wheel. The sides must be symmetrical.

We also make sure we are using a hexagon shape. You could opt to create an octagonal wheel.

In addition to creating the wheel, students must design a base on which the wheel will sit and turn on an axle. Super tricky!

In our STEM lab, we have made these models using low-temp glue guns. I only use this with 5th graders. But, one summer we tried this with a mixed class. I paired the younger students with older students and it worked.

“My students were actively engaged and they used their creativity and problem solving skills to come up with their own solution. Easy instructions to follow.” Wanda D.

I promise these challenges will become the favorites of your students! Highly engaging, great fun, problem-solving, and real life!


STEM Activities- students design and build 4 different summer amusement park rides. Detailed teacher's guide included.

Great STEM Books for these Projects!

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