This Design Incorporates the Arduino UNO

The Arduino is an open source micro controller, It is available from RadioShack and many online stores. To do this contest you are to finish the Arduino tutorial with a partner.


This contest is only for students of Albemarle High School.


To build a working paper roller coaster that utilizes an Arduino microcontroller.

The focus is input and output. The Arduino is to be used to detect the position of a marble somewhere on the roller coaster and then to respond to the marbles position by doing something on the roller coaster controlled by the Arduino. This process should reset automatically.

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 roll of transparent tape (Scotch™ tape)
  • Scissors
  • 1 piece of foam core or cardbaord 11" by 25" (You can substitute 1/4" or thicker wood that is 11" x25".) 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 base must be exactly 25 inches long and 11 inches wide -no less, no more. These dimensions have been chosen to make construction easier and to ensure that you don't bite off more than you can handle. The track and curves may extend slightly beyond the columns and beams supporting the ride. This means the track itself can go slightly beyond the 25 x 11 inch base dimensions. (If you need help cutting the board, bring it in to Mr. Wayne in room 265.) (We will supply you with a board. You are welcome to make your own, more sturdy, base board.)


base 11 x 25

This YouTube video can be found at


This is short video to give you a taste of what the paper roller coaster looks like. The coaster in the video 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 very cool.


This is a 55 point assignment.

Coaster Component
Points Description
2 It needs to work without helping the marble along and by starting the marble from rest.
2 At least 1 loop
2 The smallest dimension on the base is to be exactly 12"
2 Two diagonal supports must be used where each vertical column touches the base. They are blue in the animation shown below.
2 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.
2 Horizontal beams must make a ring around the vertical supports as shown. The rings can be at the same height or at different heights. The animation below shows green beams as different heights.
2 The largest dimension on the base is 24." Track pieces cannot extend more than 3 inches beyond the boards dimensions.
2 Maximum height is 39.25 inches (1.0 meters) or less for the track. Decorations may exceed this height.
2 Your coaster must have a name.
2 Vertical column at every corner and at least one vertical column in the middle of the base's longest dimension.
4 Just for being you :-)
25 Total points for this section
Arduino Component
25 Reads the marble's position, the Arduino controls something and it works as planned.
5+ Wow factor: This reflected through how you use the Arduino and any theme you may decide to apply.
55 Total points

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

Monday, March 3, 2015
Even if we do not have your class that day. That is the due date. Turn it in to your physics teacher.


REmoval Date

Friday, March 7, 2015
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 6 to 8 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


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 MESA class will travel among the roller coaster porject and cast up to two votes in the each category, (best scenery, best theme, most creative design element, and best use of Arduino.)
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.
Best use of the Arduino ( +2 additional points )
  The arduino and accompanying pieces control/move some aspect of the roller coaster track.
Most complex design ( +2 additional points )
  This is determined solely by the judges, (your peers.)
Picking up your track pack
Your track pack is provided in the paper box where the Arduino kit is stored.
Teachers, Click here to see how I set this up
Here is an outline of the projects I use to teach about the Arduino. Students already have some knowledge of programming structure.

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.