This STEM project is great for high school physics classes. Students will use a variety of concepts from units such as kinematics, dynamics, and energy to learn more about the physics of roller coasters. The activity is an inquiry-based STEM project in which students will design their own roller coaster while learning more about the design process that engineers employ. The project requires students to explore background information about roller coaster design, design a roller coaster, calculate key mathematical values for their roller coaster, analyze the results for their values, and reflect on their design. The project duration is about 5-10 classes. Student will require access to the internet to explore the topic.
Roller coaster design will include a starting platform, 2 drops, 1 loop and a stopping platform.
The project is broken into 8 key sections:
1.) Background research
2.) Drawing and labelling scale design of roller coaster
3.) Sample calculations (velocity, potential energy, forces, kinetic energy etc.)
4.) Free body diagrams for roller coaster carts at various locations on track
5.) Various calculations for forces, energy, and kinematics
6.) Looking a G-force and roller coaster excitement
7.) Reflection questions
8.) Summary table