Rollin’ Coastin’ Learnin’ – Mr. Van Winkle’s Class Learns Physics in an ‘awesome’ Way
Today, during third period, Mr. Van Winkle’s physics class presented their projects that they have been working on for the past week. The objective was to build a model roller coaster using plastic tubing and anything else they could find in the classroom. The students then had to calculate the velocity of a marble being shot down the track at multiple points including the top of a loop, right before performing a second “maneuver,” and at the end of the track. So fasten your seat belts, we’re about to get physical.
The class has been studying uniform circular motion. In that, centripetal acceleration plays a big part. It is the resultant force of an object moving in a circular motion, pulling the object toward the center. In order to demonstrate this, roller coaster tracks were designed.
The amateur designers showed great creativity with projects that feature loops, turns, drops, and some fancy jumps, but innovation wasn’t really what was being judged here. The students had to predict the velocity of the marble when it reaches a straightway at the end of the track, along with the velocity at the top of their loop- the velocity required to stay on-track.
Science aside, the project was fun for everyone involved. “It was my idea, so obviously it was an awesome one,” says Mr. Van Winkle.
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