Changing the Acceleration of a Roller Coaster

Roller coasters play a huge role in the recreational activities of culture today. However, trying to balance the need for extreme and safety can sometimes walk a thin line. The goal of this experiment was to determine what affects the acceleration of a roller coaster. It consisted of taking a model roller coaster and launching a car with different masses over a hill with different curves at the bottom and the top and measuring the acceleration in different locations. A larger acceleration would mean that the car would travel faster or even change directions faster on a track. When the experiment was complete, it was discovered that while all of the factors had some effect, the change in mass created the largest change in acceleration. It was also obvious that changing the top radius of the roller coaster track had very little effect on the acceleration. After the analysis, it was determined that the only effect that was significant was the mass. In general, as the radius of the bottom and the mass decreased, the acceleration increased. As the radius of the top and the acceleration location increased, the acceleration increased.

Research Done By:

Stephanie Brown
Cousino High School

Kathryn Costa
Fraser High School