Middle school Warhawks study physics through marble-run engineering

Pictured (l-r): Students Riley Rocheleau, Austin Leininger, and Nicole Peltier show off their finished marble run. SAVANNAH HOWE

Young students filed into the cafeteria to watch their 8th grade peers send marbles zooming down hand-made twists, turns, and chutes at the West Fork Rockwell campus Wednesday afternoon.

While the room was teeming with dozens of hues and sounds, and there was no shortage of excitement in the kids both demonstrating and spectating alike, the rollercoaster escapades were a science lesson in disguise. West Fork District Librarian and 7/8 Grade Science Teacher Wendy Lamos said that the purpose of the project was to reinforce lessons on force and motion. The students were separated into groups, given a limited amount of supplies, and had to put their heads together to construct the perfect marble-run over the course of a couple weeks.

8th graders Riley Rocheleau, Austin Leininger, and Nichole Peltier agreed that the most challenging aspect of the task was making sure that all of the independent parts of the rollercoaster were constructed and oriented flawlessly. No ramp could be too steep, and no curve could be too sharp, lest the marble get stuck in the course or roll off altogether. They combined their imaginations to design and assemble their apparatus, and put in many after-school hours to achieve perfection.

Peltier felt that it was all worth it in the end. "The most satisfying part was definitely seeing that little marble make it into the cup," she said.

Read the full story in the February 15 edition.