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Physics of Rollercoasters

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Rollercoaster Report


To investigate changes in gravitational potential and kinetic energy and how these changes relate to the velocity of an object.


The velocity of an object will be greater when going down the hills of the rollercoaster and lower when going up the hills. The kinetic energy at the highest point on a hill will be lower than the kinetic energy at the lowest point.


  • One ball bearing (28.57g)
  • Cardboard (used to construct rollercoaster)
  • Thick blue paper
  • Metre ruler
  • Tape
  • Pair of scissors
  • Steak knife
  • String
  • Camera (digital
  • Electric scales
  • Pencil


Creating the rollercoaster

  1. Two pieces of cardboard were chosen.
  2. The “hills” of the rollercoaster were drawn onto the two pieces (which would make the two sides of the rollercoaster) using a pencil.  
  3. The two pieces were cut using a knife and taped onto a cardboard base.  
  4. A piece of thick blue paper was measured and cut to be the ramp of the rollercoaster.
  5. Tabs were cut into the paper to make it easier to attach it to the rollercoaster.
  6. Ramp was stuck between the two pieces of cardboard using tape onto the rollercoaster.

The experiment

...read more.





Various heights

Height (cm)













Results: (the following tables and graphs were calculated using average times)

Velocity Time Table and Graph

Displacement (m)

Time (s)

Velocity m/s




















Kinetic Potential Energy/Velocity Table and Graph

Mass (kg)

Height (cm)

...read more.


Other changes that could improve our rollercoaster track include lengthening the second uphill slope or altering it to make it higher as the ball built up too much kinetic energy on the first downhill and travelled too quickly uphill, resulting in flying off the track. For a smoother run, we could have straightened the uneven bumps in the tracks by measuring the original track dimensions more accurately or applied masking tape on the curves and dips to reduce friction and the amount of energy lost by the ball.


The object had the greatest velocity at the lowest points of the rollercoaster and the lowest velocity at the highest points of the rollercoaster. Therefore, there is a relationship between the height and velocity of an object, and the results supported the hypothesis.


“Energy Transformation on a Roller Coaster” – 1996-2010 The Physics Classroom. Accessed 23 August 2010.


“Run a safe roller coaster” – Accessed 24 August 2010


...read more.

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