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Conservation of Energy (Principles): Unleash the roller coaster's potential Virtual Lab

What does it take to make a roller coaster reach 100 km/h? Join the Labster's roller coaster engineering team and use the conservation of energy to design our most exciting ride yet!

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High School

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Conservation of Energy (Principles): Unleash the roller coaster's potential

About this Simulation

This is the principles (high school) version of the simulation on Conservation of Energy. For a more advanced version please see: “Conservation of Energy: Improve the Labster Roller Coaster”

Stay seated and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle! In this simulation, you will learn about energy conservation, potential energy, and kinetic energy, and use physics to improve our roller coaster track.

Design a new roller coaster

Familiarize yourself with the equations for potential and kinetic energy, and use our test track to see how they can be applied to roller coasters. Then, use those equations and the principle of energy conservation to find out how to make our roller coaster go as fast as you can.

Experiment with potential, kinetic, and mechanical energy

You will become comfortable with the components of the formulas for potential and kinetic energy and identify the variables that determine each type of energy. Then, they will calculate the energy of our roller coaster car in multiple situations, and figure out how it transforms energy from one type into another. You will have the freedom to experiment with different masses of vehicles at different heights to determine how they influence the initial potential of the system. From there, you will explore the roller coaster's mechanical and kinetic energy, and observe how these impact speed once the car is released.

This high school adaptation takes into account the mathematical proficiency of younger students, relying on simpler calculations and qualitative reasoning.

Hold on fast!

After exploring and manipulating different kinds of energy and energy conversion and conservation, you will think critically and apply their knowledge to a design and engineering problem: How can you make the ride reach 100 km/h?

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Define potential and kinetic energy

  • Define mechanical energy and state its conservation principle

  • Use the principle of the conservation of mechanical energy and its mathematical expression to predict the behavior of a body in a frictionless system

  • Make changes to an isolated system to alter the total mechanical energy of a moving body, and examine how kinetic and potential energies change as the body moves through the system.

Techniques in Lab

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Potential energy
  • Kinetic energy
  • Mechanical energy
  • Energy conservation
  • Energy conversion

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