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
Hinode Captures Images of Partial Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse was visible from much of North America before sundown on Thursday, Oct.23. A partial eclipse occurs when the moon blocks a portion of the sun from view. The Hinode spacecraft captured images of yesterday?s eclipse as it passed over North America using its X-ray Telescope. During the eclipse, the new moon eased across the sun from right to left with the Sun shining brilliantly in the background. And as a stroke of good luck, this solar cycle?s largest active region, which has been the source of several large flares over the past week, was centered on the sun?s disk as the moon transited! Hinode is in the eighth year of its mission to observe the sun. Previously, Hinode has observed numerous eclipses due to its high-altitude, sun-synchronous orbit. As viewed from Hinode?s vantage point in space, this eclipse was annular instead of partial, which means that the entire moon moved in front of the sun but did not cover it completely. In this situation, a ring of the sun encircles the dark disk of the moon. Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Hinode mission is a collaboration between the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. NASA helped in the development, funding and assembly of the spacecraft's three science instruments. Hinode is part of the Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) Program within the Heliophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Hinode science operations. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is the lead U.S. investigator for the X-ray telescope. Image Credit: NASA/JAXA/SAO...
24 Oct 2014