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written by the Annenberg Foundation
This website allows the student to design a simple roller coaster, and it then evaluates the roller coaster based on physical principles such as potential energy and circular motion.  It rates the roller coaster on safety and on fun, and it gives an explanation of the ratings for each section of the roller coaster.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= 2D Acceleration
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- New teachers
  • Currently 3.5/5

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Intended User:
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2005 Annenberg Media
Additional information is available.
Applying basic laws of physics, Engineering, amusement park, kinetic energy, potential energy, potential energy, roller coaster physics
Record Creators:
Metadata instance created December 24, 2005 by Cathy Ezrailson
Annenberg Foundation
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 1, 2005

Next Generation Science Standards

Engineering Design (3-5-ETS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (3-5)
  • Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. (3-5-ETS1-1)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • Objects in contact exert forces on each other. (3)
  • The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object toward the planet's center. (5)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • The faster a given object is moving, the more energy it possesses. (4)
  • 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)
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)

Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change. (3-5)
  • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. (6-8)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions. (3-5)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions. (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions. (6-8)
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World (K-12)
  • Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, to decrease known risks, and to meet societal demands. (3-5)
Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology (K-12)
  • Knowledge of relevant scientific concepts and research findings is important in engineering. (3-4)
  • Science and engineering complement each other in the cycle known as research and development (R&D). (9-12)
Science is a Human Endeavor (3-12)
  • Science affects everyday life. (3-4)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions. (3-5)
    • Develop models to describe phenomena. (3-4)
  • 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)

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: The Case of Roller Coasters

Want to do a quick lesson on energy transfer in a roller coaster, but can't devote more than one class period? This simulation lets kids design a very simple roller coaster, then it evaluates the design based on physical principles, safety, and "fun factor". Good springboard for further inquiry into energy transformation.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Conservation of Energy

This simulation allows the student to design a simple roller coaster, and then evaluates the roller coaster based on physics principles.  It rates each student's roller coaster design for safety and fun, with detailed explanations of the strength or failing of each design. This simulation could work well as a starting point for studying roller coaster motion. The resource below is a perfect follow-up.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
Annenberg Foundation, (2005), WWW Document, (https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/).
Annenberg Foundation, Design a Roller Coaster (2005), <https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/>.
APA Format
Annenberg Foundation. (2005, November 1). Design a Roller Coaster. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/
Chicago Format
Annenberg Foundation. Design a Roller Coaster. November 1, 2005. https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/ (accessed 24 April 2024).
MLA Format
Annenberg Foundation. Design a Roller Coaster. 2005. 1 Nov. 2005. Annenberg Foundation. 24 Apr. 2024 <https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Annenberg Foundation", Title = {Design a Roller Coaster}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {24 April 2024}, Month = {November 1, 2005}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%Q Annenberg Foundation %T Design a Roller Coaster %D November 1, 2005 %U https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/ %O text/plain

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Annenberg Foundation, %D November 1, 2005 %T Design a Roller Coaster %V 2024 %N 24 April 2024 %8 November 1, 2005 %9 text/plain %U https://live-learnermedia.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/interactive/parkphysics/coaster/

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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 Style.org: Electronic References.

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

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