Kinetic Potential

The Kinetic & Potential of Roller Coasters

Printable version of this Lab here 

Make your own Tennis Ball Roller Coaster and learn more about kinetic and potential energy.  You may work in pairs to complete this extra credit.

Materials


Tennis ball (or similar-sized ball)

Two pieces of 70 cm × 200 cm corrugated cardboard or foam board

Heavy-duty scissors

Box knife

Meterstick

Hot glue and glue gun

Process


1.

You will be designing and constructing a cardboard “tennis ball” roller coaster with three hills. The tennis ball in each design must start from the top of the first hill, roll up and down the other two hills, and exit the end of the track. You want to have the steepest hills possible for the most thrills.

2.

Think about the following when designing your roller coaster:

  • Can all the hills be the same height? If not, why? Can they get bigger or must they get smaller? How will you determine how big or how small the hills can be and still win this contest?
  • Does the steepness of the hill count? Is it better to make the hills steep or not so steep? Why?
  • How curvy should the tops of the hills and the valleys be? Should you design sharp turns or smooth turns? Why?
  • What provides resistance on the roller coaster causing the tennis ball to slow down? How can this resistance be reduced?
  • Where is the most potential energy?  The most kinetic energy?

3.

The left and right roller coaster tracks will be made from the two pieces of corrugated cardboard that must be cut out as identical shapes. Each valley in the roller coaster must dip to a height of 20 centimeters from the bottom of the cardboard. Use heavy-duty scissors or a box knife to cut out both tracks. Here is an idea on how to lay out the roller coaster on the cardboard.
 
information box

4.

From the excess cardboard, cut out twenty-five 4 cm × 12 cm rectangles. These rectangles will serve as spacers between the two cutout tracks. Put glue along both of the 12-centimeter edges and fasten them to various places between the two tracks so that the tracks are rigid and separated by a distance of 4 centimeters.

Questions


1.

Relate the principle of “conservation of energy” in an analysis of a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Include in your discussion the names of all relevant energy forms and where and when on the ride energy transformations are occurring.

3.

Imagine that you are among the first group of passengers to test out a newly constructed roller coaster. The slide down the first hill is thrilling, but before you get to the top of the second hill, you start sliding backward and get trapped between the first two hills. Discuss what practicalities the designer forgot to include in transforming his creation from the idealized blueprint to the real world.

4.

Some roller coasters feature an upside-down “loop.” Explain why these features are always placed at the beginning of the ride and never near the end.

5.

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Imagine that you are designing the world’s ultimate roller coaster. Describe the features you would incorporate into your design and explain what limits you would put on those features to prevent fun from becoming dangerous.

To Get Full Credit = up to 40 points

  • Bring in Roller Coaster in “good shape”
  • Demonstrate the roller coaster for teacher
  • Turn in questions and measurements of coaster (including 3 hills)

This project idea came from http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/rollercoaster/

 

NASA Daily Image

NASA Image Of The Day
Extreme Ultraviolet Image of a Significant Solar Flare
The sun emitted a significant solar flare on Oct. 19, 2014, peaking at 1:01 a.m. EDT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is always observing the sun, captured this image of the event in extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 131 Angstroms ? a wavelength that can see the intense heat of a flare and that is typically colorized in teal. This flare is classified as an X1.1-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 flare is twice as intense as an X1, and an X3 is three times as intense. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. > More: NASA's SDO Observes an X-class Solar Flare Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory...
20 Oct 2014