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
Specular Spectacular
This near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. While Cassini has captured, separately, views of the polar seas (see PIA17470) and the sun glinting off of them (see PIA12481 and PIA18433) in the past, this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view. The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o'clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan's largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea. This particular sunglint was so bright as to saturate the detector of Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which captures the view. It is also the sunglint seen with the highest observation elevation so far -- the sun was a full 40 degrees above the horizon as seen from Kraken Mare at this time -- much higher than the 22 degrees seen in PIA18433. Because it was so bright, this glint was visible through the haze at much lower wavelengths than before, down to 1.3 microns. The southern portion of Kraken Mare (the area surrounding the specular feature toward upper left) displays a "bathtub ring" -- a bright margin of evaporate deposits -- which indicates that the sea was larger at some point in the past and has become smaller due to evaporation. The deposits are material left behind after the methane & ethane liquid evaporates, somewhat akin to the saline crust on a salt flat. The highest resolution data from this flyby -- the area seen immediately to the right of the sunglint -- cover the labyrinth of channels that connect Kraken Mare to another large sea, Ligeia Mare. Ligeia Mare itself is partially covered in its northern reaches by a bright, arrow-shaped complex of clouds. The clouds are made of liquid methane droplets, and could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall. The view was acquired during Cassini's August 21, 2014, flyby of Titan, also referred to as "T104" by the Cassini team. The view contains real color information, although it is not the natural color the human eye would see. Here, red in the image corresponds to 5.0 microns, green to 2.0 microns, and blue to 1.3 microns. These wavelengths correspond to atmospheric windows through which Titan's surface is visible. The unaided human eye would see nothing but haze, as in PIA12528. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson. More information about Cassini is available at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho...
31 Oct 2014