Roller Coaster Physics
This unit in Physics, junior students will be investigating the physics behind roller coasters. As the culmination of the unit, students will be visiting Six Flags Great America to experience science in action! Before they get a chance to enjoy the thrill of roller coasters in person, Clemente juniors are experimenting with roller coasters of their own. Last week, students explored how changing the mass of objects and the height of a hill impacts the kinetic and potential energy of an object. Students worked in groups and collected data in order to determine the effect.
Following the experiment, students conducted online research into the construction of roller coasters; from videos to articles to interviews with real coaster engineers, their research allowed them to look into what it takes to create innovative, exhilarating roller coasters throughout the world. The juniors examined these sources and figured out exactly what roller coasters need in order to be functional and fun! Using their research, the Physics classes are now taking on the challenge of building their own roller coasters out of just paper and tape that have to run for at least 8 seconds—very challenging for a coaster made out of paper—and include at least one loop. The Physics students are required to draft intricate designs, revise their drawings based on peer feedback and then put their plans in action. Students will take their designs and make them real; designs will include twists and turns, funnels and loops. After all designs have been completed, students will compete for the best roller coaster in their class, earning a prize for their creativity. Designs will be on display in Clemente to showcase student work!