Conservation of Energy: maximize the mechanical energy of a rollercoaster Virtual Lab

Apply the concept of conservation of energy to make the Labster roller coaster ride faster and more exciting. Calculate potential, kinetic and mechanical energy using the formula board to determine how to best improve the roller coaster track.

  • High School
  • University / College
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About This Simulation

What does it take to make a roller coaster go 100 km/h? In this simulation, you will learn how manipulating the mass, height, and velocity of a roller coaster affect its overall potential energy and kinetic energy. You will apply the concept of conservation of energy to calculate the mechanical energy of the roller coaster at different positions.

Design a new roller coaster

First, familiarize yourself with the components of the equations for potential and kinetic energy. Next, experiment using different masses of vehicles at different starting positions to discover the effect of mass and height on potential energy, velocity and kinetic energy. Finally, understand how energy transformation can be applied to the calculation of mechanical energy and use this information to design the fastest, most exciting roller coaster.

Calculate potential, kinetic and mechanical energy

Students will become comfortable with the components of the formulae for potential and kinetic energy and how these components are related to joules. By measuring energy in joules and converting from one type to another, students will discover how energy remains constant in an isolated system. Students will have the freedom to experiment with different masses of vehicles at each height to determine which combination fits their initial potential energy desire. Pulling the lever releases the rollercoaster and tracks the velocity, which can then be used to calculate the kinetic and mechanical energy.

Make the ride go 100 km/h

Choose the best vehicle and starting position then change the track by adding loops, dips and even an electric motor. Can you reach 100 km/h?

Explore Conservation of Energy: maximize the mechanical energy of a rollercoaster Virtual Lab Simulation

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