Race Track


The Race Track Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is intended for use near the middle to later stages of a learning cycle on circular motion. The Interactive provides the learner with the challenge of guiding a car around an oval track. The guidance comes by the applying of a force to the car. The learner must watch the car speed - both horizontal and vertical components - and make decisions about the direction and magnitude of the force. Those decisions are made by clicking/tapping a button, with each click/tap on a button being "a move." The goal is to complete one loop in the least number of moves. Once successful at the novice level, learners can attempt the intermediate and expert levels. Each progressive level results in a narrower track; and in the case of the expert level, there are more choices of force buttons upon which to click/tap. 

This Interactive has a true game-like nature to it. Much positive research has been done on the value of gamification to the learning process. While there will be many who do not equate gaming and learning, one thing is clear - there is a load of physics to be applied in this game in order to be successful. Force, or more importantly force components, have the effect of changing the velocity of an object in the direction of the force. Put another way, forces cause accelerations and the direction of the force is the direction of the acceleration. As in real driving, the learner in this Interactive must pay attention to their speed and be able to control the speed through the use of Newton's second law. Furthermore, to make a turn, one needs some tangential velocity and an inward force. The persistence of force buttons on the track provide an instructor a great opportunity to post-process the activity, discussing the need for a centripetal force in order to maintain circular motion. With the Race Track Interactive, gamification and physics learning is suitably mixed.

Our Race Track simulation is now available with a Concept Checker. Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker.

Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Race Track Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments CG1, CG2, CG3, CG4 and CG5 of the Circular Motion and Gravitation module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding, most notably ...

    Speed and Velocity
    Acceleration and Circular Motion
    Circular Motion and Inertia
    The Centripetal Force Requirement
    Mathematics of Circular Motion

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Two notable lab ideas include ...

    Making the Turn Lab
    Loop-the-Loop Lab

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. There is one related activity in the Circular Motion section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. The activity is named ...

    Roller Coaster Loops

    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating Race Track into an instructional unit on Circular Motion can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive. Visit http://www.nerdislandstudios.com to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.

Visit: Interactive