Conservation of energy of a rollercoaster using high speed video
This activity follows on the activity Measuring velocity of objects using video clips.
The activity is intended to give students experience extracting data from video clips, and use physics concepts and reasoning to make conclusions about the situation.
In this case, students use the video to determine the velocity of a roller coaster and apply the law of conservation of mechanical energy.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
- Quicktime video clip of the entire ride (60 frames-per-second) - quicktime movie of Steel Venom roller coaster (Quicktime Video 7.3MB Aug31 10)
- Quicktime video clip of the ride rounding an upwards corner. (210 frames per second) - high speed quicktime movie of steel venom roller coaster (Quicktime Video 26.4MB Aug31 10)
- A sample lab write-up, including detailed instructions, questions and sample calculations. The instructions in this document are very detailed. This level of detail is included for the instructor. Individual instructors can decide how much detail to include in their own instructions for students.
instruction for conservation of energy in a roller coaster activity (Microsoft Word 312kB Aug31 10)
Teaching Notes and Tips
This activity can be used in a wide variety of teaching styles. For example, the instructor can begin with a conversation about how conservation of mechanical energy applies to roller coasters and introduce the video as a conversation starter. The instructor can ask questions about the difference between an imaginary frictionless roller coaster in most textbook problems and a real roller coaster. The instructor can give the video as a challenge – ask the students if they can develop a method to use the video to determine whether mechanical energy is conserved on this roller coaster.
For the actual analysis, students should each have their own computer. If this is not possible they can work in groups.
See a complete description of how to teach with video clips, including pedagogic strategies and a collection of sample videos.