It's a Wild Ride
A Roller Coaster Design Project
Looking to inspire and engage your students in meaningful learning? Project-based learning is a compelling instructional approach for engaging students in authentic tasks that connect knowledge and skills across disciplines. It’s a Wild Ride is a detailed case study designed for teachers wanting an inside look at the development and implementation of an interdisciplinary project enriched by technology. Students move from learning content-specific knowledge and skills to applying what they learn in a group design task. Ultimately, student teams must convince a theme park to accept their design through persuasive presentations.
Detailed descriptions, teacher materials, student work samples, and teacher reflections present this effective team-taught project from start to finish and behind the scenes. For teachers interested in adapting materials for their own use, most everything developed before, during, and after the project can be found on the Web site.
Explore each of the four sections of the case study to follow the team of teachers and their students through the project, see work in progress, study the results, and learn the behind the scenes planning.
Learning That Works ›
The It’s a Wild Ride project engages 8th grade students in the design of roller coasters in their science, mathematics, social studies, and language arts classrooms. This section outlines the lessons and activities that occur in each classroom as the five-week project unfolds.
Working Together ›
A well-coordinated project is about organizing schedules and attending to how learning is sequenced and scaffolded. Once a project is underway, students and teachers alike need methods and tools to monitor progress and stay on track. This section presents a detailed day-by-day calendar, tools for monitoring and managing project work, and results of student work.
This section tracks assessment that is ongoing and embedded in the project. The teaching team plans the project around specific standards to address and master in each classroom. Students know the criteria for quality work and participate in assessing their efforts.
Supporting Success ›
This section outlines cultural and structural factors in place at the school that support successful projects. Learn about the evolution and challenges of building this team of 8th grade teachers. These teachers rely on school leaders that go to bat for effective instructional practices, like teaming and extended block schedules.
Quote to Note
"We like hands-on activities but we do not always find them ‘minds-on’ or applicable. We wanted something that was fun and rewarding for students that contained rigorous, applicable skills- a high-interest unit that required students to apply math concepts in a science context."