A Wild Ride Through Physics

What do you get when you combine a lesson in physics, elements of engineering and add in some twists and turns? Speed!

Kathleen DiSanto's Form 6 class just finished learning about conservation energy and how kinetic energy turns into gravitational potential energy. What better way to put what they learned into action by building roller coasters and testing them with a variety of variables. Using a short list of materials - paper and tape - each group built the components of a roller coaster and assembled them based on specific requirements. The rules included the structures having a minimum number of loops, turns, corkscrews, negative and positive inclines. The coaster was required to form a complete circuit a minimum of three times. Groups were given a marble to test the track. Marbles started from rest and had to move through the roller coaster on its own with no assistance, then exit horizontally from the track. And, perhaps the most important instruction of all, “Have patience and rely on the strengths of your group members.” It was impactful team bonding indeed; the class was filled with groups on their feet tensing and cheering excitedly as marbles whipped around curves and tackled inclines successfully (and unsuccessfully).

Part two of the coaster experiment was a lab portion where students were assessed on the process of building and how they solved different issues along the way. Groups were tasked with picking various places on their roller coaster where they would measure the theoretical velocity and exit velocity, and calculate how much energy was lost over the course of the marble’s journey.

Velocity aside, the twists and turns and loops these coasters displayed would challenge any speed aficionado and give them a run for their money. Or at very least...keeping down their lunch.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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