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Physics: Roller Coaster Design

These sites have information, pictures, and videos about roller coasters. Design your own roller coaster online or follow the hands-on instructions to make one in the classroom. Learn how physics concepts such as potential energy, kinetic energy, and inertia apply to these rides. There are links to eThemes Resources on simple machines and the scientific method.


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This page has ride reviews, a picture gallery, record book, and a brief history of roller coasters. NOTE: This site contains pop-up ads.
This Six Flags site has pictures and specifications for its rides, including the roller coasters.
Click on "View Movie" to watch an animated video of the ride Wildfire. Requires Quicktime.
Follow links to learn how potential and kinetic energy, centripetal force and free fall make roller coasters run. Find out more about amusement parks and their statistics.
Set you own speed, mass, loop, gravity, friction, and hills to see how a roller coaster works. This interactive design process allows students to determine the factors that go into designing roller coasters. NOTE: Site has links to external websites. NOTE: Applet requires java.
This site explains how roller coasters run. The second page has an animation that shows the point when potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Other topics include forces, gravity, inertia, and acceleration. NOTE: The site includes advertising.
Design your own roller coaster and see if it passes a safety inspection. Take a look at "Free Fall" and "Related Resources" at the bottom of the page.
Click on the different physics terms to learn more about how they relate to roller coasters. Includes information on both kinetic and potential energy.
Click on this timeline to learn more about the history of roller coasters.
Learn history, math, and physics of roller coaster. This site also includes quiz to test your knowledge on roller coaster. Many links to other sites related to a roller coaster.
This lesson has instructions for building tennis ball roller coasters in the classroom. NOTE: Site contains ads.
This lesson plan has students build a roller coaster model to help them understand the concepts of potential and kinetic energy. NOTE: Site includes ads and pop-up ads.
These resources explore the basics of simple machines. Topics include pulleys, wheel and axle, inclined planes, wedges, screws, and levers.
Presents interactive models of machines such as levers and pulley systems. Explains basic concepts of physics such as mechanics, force, and motion. Includes sites on the mechanics of sports and Leonardo da Vinci's inventions.
Learn here how the earth's gravity works. Includes photos, simulations, videos, hands-on activities, and online quizzes.
Learn basic concepts of physics. Learn about force, motion, and friction using interactive simulations where you can manipulate the variables. Includes a link to an eThemes on Simple Machines, Magnets, and Gravity.
Learn about different forms of energy, renewable and nonrenewable energy. Includes definitions, videos, online games, and quizzes. Also read tips on how to conserve energy. Includes links to an eMINTS Webquest and eThemes Resources on heat, light, the electromagnetic spectrum, sound, and electricity.

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