Build a roller coaster for a ping pong ball out of straws, hot glue, and a cardboard box for a base. This STEM challenge for kids is awesome because the materials are so simple and inexpensive! The track is surprisingly sturdy, and kids will have a blast creating a path for their ball. I would recommend this project for ages 8+, but younger kids will enjoy building it with help. Our 2 and 4 year olds love playing with the track!
The track has sets of two straws that hold the ball as it rolls. Kids will need to experiment with each section before gluing it to make sure that it works.
Want to see it in action?
To build this straw roller coaster you will need:
- A cardboard box or a piece of cardboard for the base
- Straws – solid color ones are fun!
- A hot glue gun and glue sticks
- A ping pong ball
- A bowl to catch the ball at the bottom (optional)
Aidan and Gresham worked together to build the track. I got them started with the first section, and then they got the idea and built the rest from there! When we started, I honestly wasn’t sure if this would even work, but it did and it’s so cool!
Tip: Hold the straws in place for several seconds until the glue dries. It seemed to take longer for the hot glue to cool on the straws than it normally does, and we weren’t sure why.
We chose to start building at the top and work down to the bottom. This worked well.
This is a great project for partners. It’s helpful to have someone to help hold the straws in place.
Aidan cut small pieces of straw to help support the vertical straws that hold up the track.
This project can be as simple or complex as you want it to be! This was the boys’ original track (with Jonathan testing it out!). After they played with it awhile, Aidan decided that he could add more ramps and turns.
Here is his final track design:
So cool! Here it is from another angle:
Have fun building! Need more STEM projects for kids? You might enjoy these:
- Magic Spinning Pen – A fun magnet project