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!

  • High School

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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?

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

The ticket booth of Labster’s roller coaster ride. A customer extends their hand with money to exchange it for ride tickets. This is used in the sim as a metaphor for energy transformation.
Equation builder inside the roller coaster design lab. In the left half of the screen of the equation builder, the user has already identified the variables that determine gravitational potential energy (mass, gravitational acceleration, and height), and the formula for gravitational potential energy is shown. In the right half of the screen, the user is asked to identify the variables that determine kinetic energy. Positive feedback for one of these variables is shown. At the bottom of the screen, there are cards that represent the many variables the user can choose.
Testing track in the roller coaster design lab. The user has a miniature car in their hand that they can place at different heights. A histogram showing the potential energies of different miniature cars at different heights is shown on a floating monitor on the right. The histogram is updated every time the user puts a car on a track.
A model of the Labster roller coaster in the design lab. Pulling the lever releases the miniature car so that the user can observe its motion along the track.

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