Rockin’ and Rollin’ on a Big Roller Coaster

16 08 2011

The month of August is here and the end of summer vacation is near. Have you enjoyed our Ready, Set, Roll exhibit? There are so many components that allow you to challenge the science of physics with some hands-on experimentation.

A few of the games you can play are the Loop d’ Loop where you send a golf ball on an upside down ride, a Ski Jump where you launch a golf ball attempting a land on another ramp, and there’s also the Big Spiral that will make the ball very, very dizzy. There are a ton of other games to play with that give you the chance to have fun while learning physics.

We also have a Roller Coaster that allows a ball to roll from the top of the track through hills and valleys and to the end. Do you know about the physics of roller coasters?

The higher you start the ball on the Roller Coaster track, the better chance it has making it over the first hill. The higher the ball’s starting point, the greater the energy it has at the bottom. On top of each hill, the amount of energy the ball has is called potential energy. Physics4Kids will teach you about potential energy.

The Humor Writer tells us that “physics is the scientific study of many things, such as motion, force, energy, light and sound. It includes gravity, friction and speed – all things that contribute to the way roller coasters operate”. Humor Writer also teaches us about the history of roller coasters.

This is a picture of the oldest working roller coaster Leap-the-Dips in Altoona, Pennsylvania, it’s 109 years old. Built in 1902 by the E. Joy Morris Company and in 1996 was named a National Historic Landmark. It is also the last known example of a Side Friction Figure Eight roller coaster. That means that it is made up of low flat turns and long straightaways with small dips in the the track. There aren’t many of these roller coasters left but learning about the way they have changed throughout the years is interesting.

Speaking of interesting… did you know that August 16th is Roller Coaster Day? Maybe celebrate by going to a theme park or make your very own roller coaster. Zoom gives instructions on how to make one. Send us a picture or let us know what you like about roller coasters!

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