Activity Time: Recycle Bin Roller Coaster

Building a roller coaster ball run out of paper tubes is something we always have fun with in the library.  Once you build one, there are endless modifications you can do to make different coasters, depending on the materials you use, and the type of ball you have.

Almost everything you need for this activity will come from your recycle bin.  


  • Paper tubes
  • Empty boxes
  • Empty plastic containers
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Ball/marbles (or other objects to run through your coaster.  Balled up aluminum foil works great if you do not have a ball or marble.)

As you can see I grabbed a variety of items from the recycling bin.  In the library we have used mostly paper towel and toilet paper tubes.  I thought it would be fun to try and use the milk jug and soda containers as funnels.  And I cut some of the cardboard boxes to make open ramps.  

Once you have your supplies, build your roller coaster on a door or wall. (Make sure to get your parent’s permission first).  Try to build in ramps, turns, and drops.  If you have a wide enough area, can you get enough speed built up in a downward slope to get your ball to go up?  If you have any type of flexible tubing, try to make a loop.  

Here is what my run looked like.  It took a little bit of testing and rebuilding to get my foil balls to run all the way from top to bottom.

What type of coasters were you able to create?


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