Roller Coaster Physics

Author: Iro Koliakou

Topic: leaning about energy conversions with Roller Coaster simulations.

In order to engage students in STEM activities during the Covid-19 lockdown, Anatolia College STEM organised an online workshop on “Roller Coaster Physics”.

Roller coasters can be excellent examples and tools to teach students basic concepts of physics and introduce them to the design cycle. The workshop was led by Scientix Ambassador Iro Koliakou and STEM instructor Virginia Arvaniti. Scientix Online Meeting Room (SOMR) was used and very valuable technical support was provided by a member of the Scientix team so the workshop could run smoothly.

34 students participated in the workshop. After a short presentation of basic concepts on kinetic, potential energy and energy conservation, students were given instructions to construct a paper loop and observe how different factors affect the movement of a marble. A Padlet was created for students to upload their work and material, related to “Roller Coaster Physics”.

Furthermore, students experimented with different roller coaster shapes using simulations from GoLabz.

In the workshop, we used the resource from the Scientix repository: Go-Lab: Global online science labs inquiry learning at school. Go-Lab is an EU funded project that creates an infrastructure (the Go-Lab Portal) to provide access to online laboratories run by research centres and universities worldwide.

More specifically, three virtual labs were presented: Roller Coaster With Two Balls, Rigid Body Roller Coaster and  Roller Coaster

Students made a simple design of their roller coaster on a paper and then used the virtual simulation to simulate their roller coaster design. The simulations allowed students to change the track shape, drag the ball to change the starting position and try modifying gravity or damping. 

It was a wonderful experience for both instructors and students. A big thanks to Scientix and Scientix support team.