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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
In this blended activity supporting science and literacy skills, students explore how energy is transformed in a roller coaster. The resource features video, interactive assessment, and an animated tutorial -- blended with informative text and vocabulary skill-building. It was developed to promote deeper understanding of energy as an agent of change that moves the car along the track. The animation and video clip will help students visualize how potential energy is transformed to kinetic energy (and the reverse) through mechanical power and the force of gravity. The literacy exercises promote the language of science and accurate concept formation.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Gravity
= Universal Gravitation
- Work and Energy
= Mechanical Power
Education Foundations
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- Technology
= Multimedia
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Problem/Problem Set
- Assessment Material
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- General Publics
- text/html
- application/flash
- application/pdf
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Safety Warnings
Minimal Danger   No Safety Equipment Necessary  

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© 2007 WGBH Educational Foundation
Blended learning, Law of Conservation of Energy, conservation of energy, energy transfer, energy transformation, engineering design, free science videos, roller coaster, science multimedia, science videos, video clips
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created June 7, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
June 7, 2013 by Caroline Hall

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 9-12: 3A/H4. Engineers use knowledge of science and technology, together with strategies of design, to solve practical problems. Scientific knowledge provides a means of estimating what the behavior of things will be even before they are made. Moreover, science often suggests new kinds of behavior that had not even been imagined before, and so leads to new technologies.

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 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.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 6-8: 11B/M6. A model can sometimes be used to get ideas about how the thing being modeled actually works, but there is no guarantee that these ideas are correct if they are based on the model alone.
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9—10 texts and topics.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (6-12)
  • RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
  • RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
  • RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9—10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2007), WWW Document, (
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster, (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2007), <>.
APA Format
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster. (2007). Retrieved October 24, 2017, from WGBH Educational Foundation:
Chicago Format
WGBH Educational Foundation. PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007. (accessed 24 October 2017).
MLA Format
PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007. 24 Oct. 2017 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {24 October 2017}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster
%D 2007
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%C Boston
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2007
%T PBS Learning Media: Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%V 2017
%N 24 October 2017
%9 text/html

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Citation Source Information

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

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