Student Exploration: Roller Coaster Physics
Vocabulary: friction, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy, momentum, velocity
Prior Knowledge Questions (Do these BEFORE using the Gizmo.)
Sally gets onto the roller coaster car, a bit nervous already. Her heart beats faster as the car slowly goes up the first long, steep hill.
What happens at the beginning of every roller coaster ride?
Does the roller coaster ever get higher than the first hill?
The Roller Coaster Physics Gizmo™ models a roller coaster with a toy car on a track that leads to an egg. You can change the track or the car. For the first experiment, use the default settings (Hill 1 = 70 cm, Hill 2 = 0 cm, Hill 3 = 0 cm, 35-g car).
Press Play () to roll the 35-gram toy car down the track. Does the car break the egg?
Click Reset (). Set Hill 1 to 80 cm, and click Play. Does the car break the egg?
Click Reset. Lower Hill 1 back to 70 cm and select the 50-gram toy car. Click Play. Does the 50-gram car break the egg? _
What factors seem to determine whether the car will break the egg
Energy on a roller coaster
Get the Gizmo ready:
Click Reset. Select the 50-g car.
Check that the Coefficient of friction is 0.00.
Set Hill 1 to 100 cm, and Hill 2 and 3 to 0 cm.
Question: How does energy change on a moving roller coaster?
Observe: Turn on Show graph and select E vs t to see a graph of energy (E) versus time. Click Play and observe the graph as the car goes down the track.
Does the total energy of the car change as it goes down the hill?