The CoasterDad Project

Dad Builds Backyard Roller Coaster, Supports Science Education

What started out as a weekend family project grew into a neighborhood event, then a community conversation, and now an online science education sensation.


Orinda, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/13/2014 -- motivates kids to learn science and math through the challenge and excitement of building backyard roller coasters.

When Will Pemble's kids asked him to build a roller coaster in the backyard, he did something unheard of. He said yes. That was the beginning of an organization now known as "It all started started because I like to say yes to my kids. They've got great ideas, and great questions," said Pemble. "So, instead of telling them all the reasons not to do something unique, we built it."

Once the roller coaster started to take shape, the Pemble's neighbors, especially the kids, got involved." A kids first question is always, 'When can I ride it," said Pemble? "After we got that out of the way, the kids had more questions about how it was built, what made it work, why were some hills higher than others, how the cart would steer, and so on. Kids want to know everything about the coaster, and they're willing to listen, think, and learn because it's something they've never seen in a backyard." Before long, Will Pemble was teaching physics, math, and science, to kids who thought they were playing. "If arithmetic is the core activity, not many kids will take an interest. But, if riding a roller coaster is the goal, and there's a little math between here and there, kids will step up, light up, and do the math. All of a sudden, there's a reason for it, and it means something," said Pemble. "The math lasts a lot longer than the coaster ride."

Throughout the project, Mr. Pemble posted several YouTube videos, which he usually called "engineering updates." As the videos gained popularity online, the scope of the backyard roller coaster project grew. Viewers wrote in with suggestions and questions, and started asking for help and ideas. Pemble built the website to faciltate conversations with other roller coaster enthusiasts. "I created to show that kids learn important things when those things are important to them," said Pemble, "I'd like to make it easier for parents to say Yes to crazy ideas like this, because that's what makes it easier for kids to learn." promotes science education for kids through engaging projects, videos, and events.