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 20 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
Ceres Seen From NASA's Dawn Spacecraft
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000) kilometers from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet?s gravity at about 4:39 a.m. PST (7:39 a.m. EST) Friday, March 6. This image of Ceres was taken by the Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored world. The image shows Ceres as a crescent, mostly in shadow because the spacecraft's trajectory put it on a side of Ceres that faces away from the sun until mid-April. When Dawn emerges from Ceres' dark side, it will deliver ever-sharper images as it spirals to lower orbits around the planet. The image was obtained at a distance of about 30,000 miles (about 48,000 kilometers) at a sun-Ceres-spacecraft angle, or phase angle, of 123 degrees. Image scale on Ceres is 1.9 miles (2.9 kilometers) per pixel. Ceres has an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 kilometers). Dawn's mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgments,http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission. Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA...
06 Mar 2015