- Students will explore the potential energy (PE) and kinetic energy (KE) of a roller coaster.
- Students will explore energy transformations related to the motion of a roller coaster with and without friction.
- conservative vs. non-conservative forces
- kinetic energy (KE)
- potential energy (PE)
- total energy
About the Lesson
In this lesson, students begin with an exploration of the relationships between work, potential energy, and kinetic energy. The simulation uses a block that is either lifted and dropped or is pulled up an incline and allowed to slide back down. These concepts are then applied to a simulation of a roller coaster car moving along a track.
As a result, students will:
- Observe that an external force doing positive work increases the mechanical energy of an object, while friction causes a decrease in mechanical energy.
- Describe how energy transforms between potential and kinetic forms, and, in the absence of friction, the total mechanical energy remains constant.
- Relate the concepts of work and energy to the design and motion of a roller coaster.