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Energy Transformation on a Roller Coaster
Image: iStockphoto.com/mjbs

Energy Transformation on a Roller Coaster

Roller coasters can be thrilling or terrifying, but did you know that they are also a perfect illustration of physics at work?

As the carriage rises and falls, energy moves back and forth between potential and kinetic. Strap yourself in and hold on because the science of roller coasters is a wild ride.

The Physics Classroom
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Coaster Creator

Coaster Creator

If you know enough about kinetic and potential energy to build a roller coaster that won't get stuck or crash, you win this game. If not...oh, oh. More...

Game
The Jason Project
Amusement Park Rides that Know When You’re Scared

Amusement Park Rides that Know When You’re Scared

Biofeedback is the latest thing in thrill seeking. Read about the work this team from the University of Nottingham is doing to customize your ride at the amusement park. More...

Video
New Scientist
Kinetic and Potential Energy in a Roller Coaster

Kinetic and Potential Energy in a Roller Coaster

On a roller coaster, the energy you have at the top of the curve (potential energy), soon turns into kinetic energy, as you plunge to the bottom. That turns into potential energy again as you rise — all of which turns into a lot of screaming. More...

Video
KET
Make Your Own Roller Coaster

Make Your Own Roller Coaster

Do you want to build a roller coaster? Well, you might not have that much steel or wood lying around, but this activity will help you perfect your design skills with cheap material and some marbles. More...

Activity
Museum of Science and Industry
Machines!: Roller Coaster

Machines!: Roller Coaster

Roller coasters operate on the principles of physics, but operating them safely is an engineering marvel. Find out how coasters are designed for ultimate thrills and maximum safety. More...

Video
Science Channel
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Roller Coaster Physics: A LEGO Stop Motion Science Film

Roller Coaster Physics: A LEGO Stop Motion Science Film

Want to learn the physics of roller coasters? From LEGO figures? Then this video is for you! More...

Video
O2Learn
Amusement Park Physics: Roller Coaster

Amusement Park Physics: Roller Coaster

Discover how the "scream machine" works and the difference between wooden and steel coasters. Then find out how physics laws affect ride design. More...

Article
Annenberg Learner
Roller Coaster Science: Centripetal Force

Roller Coaster Science: Centripetal Force

Why don't we fall out when our roller coaster goes upside down? You can thank centripetal force! It's all explained in this video. More...

Video
artsciencefun.com
Time Warp: Roller Coaster Science

Time Warp: Roller Coaster Science

Using a camera that shoots 1,000 frames a second, this photographer illustrates the physics of roller coasters in action. More...

Video
Discovery
Top 10 Wooden Roller Coasters in the U.S.

Top 10 Wooden Roller Coasters in the U.S.

Whether they're made of steel or wood, all roller coasters obey the laws of physics. And the wooden coasters on this list are full of thrills and chills. More...

Images
Los Angeles Times
Wood Takes a Thrilling Turn in Roller Coaster Design

Wood Takes a Thrilling Turn in Roller Coaster Design

What's your favorite style of roller coaster, wood or steel? Steel might be the most common, but wood roller coasters may be making a comeback thanks to the unique properties of wood. More...

Article
New York Times

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