Computer Program Detail Page

Item Picture
Roller Coaster Model
written by Michael R. Gallis
edited by Wolfgang Christian
content provider: Barbara Christian, Anne Cox, and Mario Belloni
The EJS Roller Coaster model explores the relationship between kinetic, potential, and total energy as a cart travels along a roller coaster.  Users can create their own roller coaster curve and observe the resulting motion.

The Roller Coaster model was created using the Easy Java Simulations (EJS) modeling tool.  It is distributed as a ready-to-run (compiled) Java archive.  Double clicking the jar file will run the program if Java is installed.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.5 of Java (JRE).
4 supplemental documents are available
1 source code document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- General
- Motion in One Dimension
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
General Physics
- Computational Physics
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Model
= Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- application/java
  • Currently 5.0/5

Rated 5.0 stars by 9 people

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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a GNU General Public License Version 3 license.
Rights Holder:
Michael Gallis
friction, gravity, normal force, kinetic energy, roller coaster, thermal energy
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 27, 2008 by Wolfgang Christian
Record Updated:
October 13, 2015 by Wolfgang Christian
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 27, 2008
Other Collections:


Author: Ahmedelshfie
Posted: March 23, 2010 at 8:59AM
Source: The Open Source Physics collection

Is really exllent simulation

» reply

Made a remixed here

Author: lookang
Posted: April 16, 2009 at 11:24PM
Source: The Open Source Physics collection

Is it legal to remix?
I read this but i am still not sure.

5. Conveying Modified Source Versions.

You may convey a work based on the Program, or the modifications to produce it from the Program, in the form of source code under the terms of section 4, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

    * a) The work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date.
    * b) The work must carry prominent notices stating that it is released under this License and any conditions added under section 7. This requirement modifies the requirement in section 4 to "keep intact all notices".
    * c) You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to anyone who comes into possession of a copy. This License will therefore apply, along with any applicable section 7 additional terms, to the whole of the work, and all its parts, regardless of how they are packaged. This License gives no permission to license the work in any other way, but it does not invalidate such permission if you have separately received it.
    * d) If the work has interactive user interfaces, each must display Appropriate Legal Notices; however, if the Program has interactive interfaces that do not display Appropriate Legal Notices, your work need not make them do so.

A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and which are not combined with it such as to form a larger program, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the compilation and its resulting copyright are not used to limit the access or legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.

» reply

Re: Made a remixed here

Author: lookang
Posted: Jul 31, 2009 at 2:28AM

Got a reply from Prof Wolfgang, reproduced here for closure of whether open source allows others to edit and put back to the community.

What you have done with the roller coaster model is perfectly legal.  Michael and I are happy that you are using improving the model.  This is the whole idea behind open source.


» reply

Post a new comment on this item

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M1. Whenever energy appears in one place, it must have disappeared from another. Whenever energy is lost from somewhere, it must have gone somewhere else. Sometimes when energy appears to be lost, it actually has been transferred to a system that is so large that the effect of the transferred energy is imperceptible.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
  • 9-12: 4E/H9. Many forms of energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, or potential energy, which depends on the separation between mutually attracting or repelling objects.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M2. Mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

12. Habits of Mind

12C. Manipulation and Observation
  • 6-8: 12C/M3. Make accurate measurements of length, volume, weight, elapsed time, rates, and temperature by using appropriate devices.

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (MS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the motion energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. (MS-PS3-5)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • Motion energy is properly called kinetic energy; it is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed. (6-8)
  • A system of objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. (6-8)
  • Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. (9-12)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • Conservation of energy means that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. (9-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. (9-12)
  • Mathematical expressions, which quantify how the stored energy in a system depends on its configuration (e.g. relative positions of charged particles, compression of a spring) and how kinetic energy depends on mass and speed, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe system behavior. (9-12)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems. (6-8)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
  • Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system. (6-8)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)
Science is a Human Endeavor (3-12)
  • Science is a result of human endeavors, imagination, and creativity. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
    • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop a model to predict and/or describe phenomena. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Ratios and Proportional Relationships (6-7)

Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems. (6)
  • 6.RP.1 Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities.

Expressions and Equations (6-8)

Reason about and solve one-variable equations and inequalities. (6)
  • 6.EE.6 Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set.
Work with radicals and integer exponents. (8)
  • 8.EE.2 Use square root and cube root symbols to represent solutions to equations of the form x² = p and x³ = p, where p is a positive rational number. Evaluate square roots of small perfect squares and cube roots of small perfect cubes. Know that ?2 is irrational.

Functions (8)

Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)
  • 8.F.5 Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.

NSES Content Standards

Con.B: Physical Science
  • 5-8: Transfer of Energy
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
M. Gallis, Computer Program ROLLER COASTER MODEL (2008), WWW Document, (
M. Gallis, Computer Program ROLLER COASTER MODEL (2008), <>.
APA Format
Gallis, M. (2008). Roller Coaster Model [Computer software]. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from
Chicago Format
Gallis, Michael. "Roller Coaster Model." (accessed 22 January 2017).
MLA Format
Gallis, Michael. Roller Coaster Model. Computer software. 2008. Java (JRE) 1.5. 22 Jan. 2017 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Michael Gallis", Title = {Roller Coaster Model}, Month = {October}, Year = {2008} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael Gallis
%T Roller Coaster Model
%E Wolfgang Christian, (ed)
%D October 27, 2008
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program
%A Gallis, Michael
%D October 27, 2008
%T Roller Coaster Model
%E Christian, Wolfgang
%8 October 27, 2008

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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Roller Coaster Model:

Is Based On Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool

The Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool is needed to explore the computational model used in the Roller Coaster.

relation by Mario Belloni
Is the Basis For Roller Coaster Energy

A BQ Learning resource that uses this OSP item.

relation by Wolfgang Christian

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