Online Resources 

Roller Coasters

Physical Science Concepts - Motion and Forces

Ask a Scientist

Cross-Curricular Activities

Roller Coaster -

Background Information

Amusement Park Physics
Premiere site for learning about the physics involved in amusement park rides. Includes background information, activities, glossary, and more.
How to Build a Roller Coaster
Background information explaining the physics behind designing a roller coaster. Discusses gravity, conservation of energy, centripetal force, and the formulas used to calculate these forces.
ITPS Online
A helpful guide for students, educators, and enthusiasts to numerous resources, reference information, etc. You may also send them questions online.
Roller Coaster FAQ
Great site to learn about potential and kinetic energy, centripetal force, and free Play on the midway and find out more about amusement parks fall.


Roller Coaster Database
Currently the Roller Coaster Database contains statistics on more than 500 roller coasters. This should be a nearly complete list of all operating roller coasters in North America. Includes Roller Coaster Census where data can be sorted by state, province, type.
Database of facts on roller coasters around the world. Good place to find track length, ride duration, materials used, etc.

Ultimate Roller Coaster Record Book
Includes the Ultimate Roller Coaster Record Book, Rollercoaster Yellow Pages, and history. The Roller Coaster Yellow Pages is a extensive, detailed list of roller coasters at theme parks in the United States. The list currently features over three hundred and fifty coasters which can be viewed sorted by coaster names or theme parks.


Amusement Ride Accidents
Roller Coaster accidents - list of occurences, links to state regulations for safety, and links to articles regarding amusement park safety.

Physical Science Concepts - Motion and Forces

Background Information

User-friendly site that explains concepts such as vectors, energy, force, laws of energy, velocity, gravity, friction, momentum, and work. Interesting graphics and good analogies.

Great site to learn about potential and kinetic energy, centripetal force, and free fall. Play on the midway and find out more about amusement parks.

Related Activities/Extensions

Physics Demonstrations
This site describes a plethora of physics demonstrations that seem magical, yet clearly demonstrate key concepts. Step-by-step instructions.

Principles of Aeronautics - Forces and Motion
This part of the curriculum database contains many lessons that demonstrate Newton's laws of motion in action. Activities are rated by difficulty and indicates the science skills that are involved. Links to curriculum bridges are also provided.

Mad Scientist Network
Here's just one question from the Mad Scientist Network--Standing at sea level at the equator on June 21, how far would I travel?

Roller Coaster - Project GET-IT
This activitiy, demonstrating Isaac Newton's principles of motion, uses pipe insulation, tape, marbles, steel ball, and stopwatch.

Amazing Science
Rich site on the galaxy, solarsystem, telescopes, stars, etc. Includes a galery, solar system trading cards, and much more.

Speed of Light
Informational page from the Unmuseum asks the questions, "if a light year is the distance light travels in one year, how far is this?" Also discusses the "twins" effect or "time dilation", and queries the galaxy traveler, "how many years will it take if you were traveling at the speed of light?"

Ask a Scientist

Paul Bergstrom is a research physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who has aagreed to answer modern physics questions from K-12 students and teachers. It is suggested that teachers help students with question-asking protocol so questions are worthwhile.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Math Connections
Teacher resource connecting math with roller coasters.

Math/Internet Scavenger Hunt
Students search the Internet to find data listed on the scavenger hunt. They use math to support their answers.

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Expected Process
Alternate Outcomes
Teacher Resources