The Roller Coaster Design Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be re-sized to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom. This Interactive does not display as nicely on all phones and we do not recommend its use on many phones.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is intended for use near the middle to later stages of a learning cycle on circular motion. It is an ideal tool for introducing a project on roller coasters or simply as an enrichment activity that relates physics to a real-world topic. The goal of the Interactive is two-fold: (1) to provide some instruction on the factors that affect the safety and the thrill of a roller coaster ride, and (2) to provide some realistic data that can be used in designing a coaster or analyzing a coaster. The provided activity sheets will be useful tools for accomplishing each goal. The first activity sheet guides learners to understanding how design features impact thrill and safety. It is an excellent tool for any classroom that is beginning a roller coaster design project. The second activity sheet is intended to promote science reasoning skills. Questions target student ability to interpret data and to draw conclusions that are consistent with data.

Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Roller Coaster Design 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 CG2, CG3, and CG4 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 ...

    Circular Motion and Inertia
    Acceleration and Circular Motion
    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
    Loop the Loop

    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 Roller Coaster Design into an instructional unit on roller coasters, energy, or circular motion can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.

Visit: Interactive Activity 1 | Activity 2