24 Columns
The Cyclone Design

In this contest you to use 24 columns in your roller coaster's construction. You may design your structure with the columns any way you want. Columns are the vertical structures. If you turn a beam sideway such that it it vertical, it will also count as a column.

This contest is only for students of Albemarle High School.

Construction requirements for the paper roller coaster.
  • Paper templates will be supplied. Picking up a packet of templates commits you to the project. Our template packet consists of white support structures and yellow track. If you want different colors you must supply card stock or cover stock, NOT PAPER, in the color you want. Card/cover stock is 65 lb to 110 lb paper. Regular paper is 20 - 25 lb. It is not thick enough.
  • Online videos showing how to make the various pieces will be supplied.
  • Other materials you must supply
  • Magazine
  • Ball point pen (a ball point works best.)
  • 12" ruler
  • 1 whole roll of new transparent tape (Scotch™ tape)
  • Scissors
  • 1 piece of foam core board (You can substitute 1/4" or thicker.) The actual size of the board is determined by your choice of layouts. The base cannot be bigger than 20 x 30 inches. Poster board or paper is not allowed for the base.
  • 1 marble

The coaster must be built on a base. Foam core board is the easiest material to use. It is available at Walmart, Kmart, Target, CVS, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, The Dollar Tree, and Michael's -to name a few stores. The 24 column limit means you build the coaster in many different shapes. Your coaster must be shorter than or equal to 6 columns high and taller than 2 columns high. You must be able to get it through the doors at school. (If you need help cutting the foam board, bring it to Mr. Wayne in room 265 or to him in the MESA office.)

  • You are to use all 24 columns in your structure.
  • The columns must be part of the structure. They cannot be, for example, turned into a tree.
  • Your coaster cannot be taller than the classroom door when it is placed on the floor.
  • Your coaster must be at least 2 columns tall.
  • Any base’s side cannot be longer than 36 inches.
  • You must design a component of the roller coaster that uses the templates in a manner that they were not intended to be used for.
  • Your templates will include a special set of 4 columns that are a different color from the other columns. YOU MUST USE EACH OF THESE SPECIAL COLUMNS IN YOUR COASTER. You are not allowed to cover over these 4 columns. Each special column must be in its own column. For example you cannot stack the special column templates in the same column.

Here are some design possibilities that use the maximum of 24 columns.


This YouTube video can be found at http://youtu.be/iqCV5DIiMuA


This is short video to give you a taste of what the paper roller coaster looks like. This coaster is so small is can fit inside of a paper box.

Below is a video of a huge paper roller coaster that is designed by Andrew Gatt. (He's the guy who created the templates we are using.) This video exceeds the size limitations of the contest -but it is amazing.


Every entry starts with 40 points, next to each bullet below are the number of points you could lose by not reaching the associated design requirement. The lowest grade earned will be a 25.

  • It needs to work without helping the marble along and by starting the marble from rest. (4 pts)
  • At least 2 loops (4 pts off per missing loop)
  • Two diagonal supports must be used where each vertical column touches the base. They are blue in the animation shown below. (4 pts)
  • After it has been shown to be a successful design, one of the vertical supports, (the tallest,) will be pushed sideways. The rest of the coaster should not sway when this is done. Follow design instructions illustrated below and this will not happen. (4 pts)
  • Horizontal beams must make a ring around the vertical supports as shown above. The rings can be at the same height or at different heights. The animation below shows green beams as different heights. (4 pts)
  • You are to create a track piece that is not supplied. This track piece can use the supplied pieces, but they must be used in a different manner.(4 pts)
  • The largest dimension on the base is 36." Track pieces cannot extend more than 3 inches beyond the boards dimensions.(4 pts)
  • The height of the coaster must be shorter than the classroom door. Decorations may exceed this height. (3 pts)
  • Your coaster must have a name. (1 pts)
  • Remove the coaster from the room by or before the removal date. (4 pts)
  • Use no more than 24 columns. (4 pts.)

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

paper Coaster Track Construction Videos
Paper Roller Coaster Constructions Tips (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper columns (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make and attach the horizontal beams (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make and attach the diagonal supports (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster: How to make the paper tracks (YouTube Video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper loops (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the shelves that support the track (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the funnel (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the merge (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the turns. (YouTube video)
Paper Roller Coaster Construction: How to make the paper coaster switch (YouTube Video)

Due Date

The first Wednesday of the first full week of the 4th quarter, 2016
Even if we do not have your class that day. That is the due date. Turn it in to your physics teacher.


REmoval Date

Your roller coaster must be either removed or thrown away within two days of the student judging. Even if I do not have you in class that day.


Get organized
  • From what past participants have told me, it takes about 8 to 10 hours to do a good job building the basic roller coaster. The smart thing to do would be to build for 2 hours every weekend or an hour a night.
  • Start soon. ...As in now.
  • If you are working with a partner, draw a basic outline so you can decide how many pieces you may need to make. then go to your separate homes and make the pieces. the next time the two of you get together, bring your completed pieces and you can focus on build ideas.
MESA Additional Requirement

Your roller coaster is to have something on it that uses power from a battery.
  • The battery powered device must be turned off due to the motion of the marble OR turned due to the motion of the marble. It can also turn on and then off if you want to design it that way.
  • The battery voltage cannot exceed 9 Volts.
  • You may use NiMh, NiCad, or an Alkaline battery type of any voltage between 1.5 and 9 Volts. No car, marine, lawn mower, motorcycle, or "PowerWheel™" batteries are allowed.
  • The battery powered device cannot generate heat or start a fire as its primary purpose.
  • Your devise cannot plug into the wall or use an AC adapter.
  • Your devise cannot do anything that might be dangerous.


Bonus points and judging
You are also competing for bonus credit points to be added to the score. This will make it possible to receive more than 100 % for the project. This is done by winning one or more of the following competitions. Each teacher will make an award to someone in his or her own class.
The day after the due date, every student in every participating physics class will travel between each participating teachers' room and cast up to two votes in the each category, (best scenery, best theme, most creative design element, and most complex design for physics.)
Kids judging paper roller coasters
Best scenery ( +2 additional points )

Lots of quality scenery covering the entire coaster and platform. Spending money on fancy scenery will not automatically make you a winner. Simple, but clever or well done, "campy," designs show more creativity -especially when they support the name and theme of your coaster.

Best Theme ( +2 additional points )
What's the name of your roller coaster? Does your scenery support this theme? Does the design support your theme? Is there a coolness or cleverness factor to your name?

Most creative design element ( +2 additional points )
  Looking for something different. You may use items not made from paper for this. You cannot use anything that was originally designed as a part of any kind of roller coaster toy.
Battery power. ( +2 additional points )
  Something on the track that is battery powered AND is turned on by the marble. The battery powered device must stay on for at least 1 second. This year we are looking for the most creative battery element. None MESA student can earn 1 extra point for incorporating battery power that follow the MESA rules outlined below.
Most complex design ( +2 additional points )
  This is determined solely by the judges, (your peers.)
What's it worth?
Mr. Wayne's Class: this will count as an extra 40 point quiz grade.
You will not automatically earn all the points for turning in a project.
If you pick up the templates and do not turn in a project, then you will earn an "F" on the project. It will count as 25 out of 40 points. (The only way around this is to turn for your parent or guardian to send me a note stating why you were unable to finish project. (Poor "time management" is not an acceptable excuse. Your project will also be excused if I know were out due to an extended illness close to the deadline.)
Late projects are not eligible for extra extra-points from the "Best Scenery, Best Theme, Most Creative Design Element, or Most Complex Design competitions.
A roller coaster cannot earn no more than 8 additional points above what is awarded for the project.
Picking up your track pack
  To pickup your "track pack," you must fill out the form shown below, then either see Mr. Wayne in room 265 or tell your physics teacher.
Teachers, Click here to see how I set this up

by Tony Wayne ...(If you are a teacher, please feel free to use these resources in your teaching.)

The owner of this website does not collect cookies when the site is visited. However, this site uses and or embeds Adobe, Apple, GoDaddy, Google, and YouTube products. These companies collect cookies when their producs are used on my pages. Click here to go to them to find out more about how they use their cookies. If you do not agree with any of their policies then leave this site now.