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Roller Coaster Physics

Roller coasters are a fantastic tool to teach about forces and motion. All of my students have either ridden on or at a minimum seen a roller coaster in action. YouTube is filled with videos of roller coaster rides to use as anchoring phenomena. This year, I used half a semester with roller coasters as my anchor and I could have continued the development further.

Some of the concepts that can be covered with Roller Coasters include:

  • Newton's Laws of Motion

  • The First Law of Thermodynamics (Conservation of Energy)

  • Energy Conversions

  • Gravity (g-Forces)

  • Friction

  • Free Body Diagrams


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