Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alex's Roller Coaster Project - Stage II

Song:  Flight Of The Imagination

Group:  Future World Music

Alex's work last night WAS due today!
(late meaning Tuesday)

He turned the papers in and he got the whole assignment today.

We are going to have to finish this project completely this weekend.

It is due in less than two weeks!

We had to shift priorities today.

Tomorrow, I will have to shop for the materials...
(remember...the whole thing must be made of paper product and tape or glue)
and we will have to begin building starting Friday.

Alex had to come up with a design today (with suggestions from me)...
and do a partial drawing (one side of it) to scale, on graph paper.

He named it: 

 Dragon Flight 

It is is so named because the Dragon (a bright red marble - if I can find one)
will take flight off a 45 degree, or so, left facing ramp (after the initial hill and a loop)
from two thirds down the right side.

It will be caught in a raised funnel (set a full length down on the left side corner)
and travel through more convolutions till the end at the bottom of the initial hill (tower).


 If we have enough time...
we hope to automate the loading of the marble to the top of the initial hill
on the right side (after which there is a loop and directly after is the flight ramp)...
by making a windmill with a drive wheel directly attached to the windmill axel
(located on the disembarkation ramp at the top of the initial hill)...
and connecting it by two parallel drive belts of braided cordage of toilet tissue.

As it stands now...until we test the viability of it...
Scott tissue is one of the best for this
(not only because it lacks the soft puffy nature of others...
it is a strong, smooth, single ply with strong perforation junctures...
and a thousand sheets to the roll :)

The belts will be connected to a tension wheel at the bottom marble loading ramp
with the twin parallel drive belts (about 1" apart) connected with
marble loading buckets and with a trip bar joining the belts just prior to 
the buckets (in line of travel) to tilt the trip lever which will be attached
to a pretensioned paper flap at the bottom opening of a tilted marble holding
tube (empty toilet paper roll).  The flap will hold the returning marble back 
until forced open by the trip lever...allowing the marble to roll out, and into
the, then, arriving bucket.  

We will have to construct an extra large diameter windmill
 (extra long cardboard vanes to provide the torque necessary).
The wind source will come from a portable fan aimed at the vanes from a foot or so away.

The axels will be postal cardboard tubes 
(small diameter on the drive wheel and a large diameter one
on the tension wheel to keep torque high
while simultaneously regulating the speed of the belts).

We will manufacture paper mache ball bearings from small spit wad sized
paper balls, held together with a paste of flour and water
(a paper tube in a paper supporting ring, without bearings, creates too much friction).

We will assure bearing roundness by rolling them in a circular fashion...
under a flat sheet of cardboard while on a hard and flat surface, as they dry....

we won't have time for the automatic loading system I am afraid.

Everything else was true though.
Forgive me...I couldn't resist  :)
(you didn't really believe me did you? :)

(now you know the reason for this particular song)


This was Alex's homework for today 
(just the first half...the second half will be done in school).

Today was brainstorming of the coaster design...
the naming of it...
and the scaled down drawing of one half of it.

The following are his project instructions.

This shall be this weekend's project.

So long as we don't get hit with another short term project 
before completion of this one...
we should be OK.

Poor Alex...
he was a bit grumpy today due to a lack of sleep.

Tomorrow is going to be an easy day for him...
just regular homework while I go materials shopping.

He has been working so hard.
I promised him a short trip to Lake Tahoe this Thursday
for a day of relaxation (no school this Thursday or Friday).

starting Friday until whenever we finish...
(hopefully by sometime Sunday)
it is Dragon Flight construction...
data compilation and analysis...
and report completion.

"Coral Academy Of Science is living up to its name."...
a direct quote from Alex after showing me his project instructions.

this assignment is from one of his Math classes.

Social Studies incorporates advanced writing assignments in its projects.
Some Math classes incorporate applied math through fundamental physics projects.

Although Alex is starting to feel a little pressured right now due to the 
simultaneous projects he needs to complete soon...
with more on the horizon...
he is also feeling more confident with each experiment 
or writing assignment he completes.

This is good ...
a little tiring...
but very good  :)


  1. This roller coaster project is incredible. I would not know where to start, especially since it has to be made with paper products. What a learning experience! College will be easy for Alex after all that he is doing at Coral Academy. :)

  2. The actual building of the coaster was finished Sunday. Alex did the time trials and the calculations for his project. Although I did the construction of the roller coaster (I didn't want him to handle a utility knife)...I showed him what, and how, it was done. He did the graphing and test data collection and analyzation. He must still do the final project typing and conclusion (later today). It is almost completed. I will be doing a complete article on the coaster at full completion. This project was, by far, the most difficult to complete. Less than two weeks to do! Alex had other minor papers to finish in the meantime. This weekend is going to be spent in California (school trip)...and his project is due on Monday. I just wish we had a month for completion...this way I could have walked Alex through the actual construction and could have given him hands on experience. After completion of the coaster late Sunday...I wrote a short story which explained the actual path of the marble (the dragon) in legend form. I wanted to give the coaster a theme which was consistent with the actual construction of it. I will include it in the next article.


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