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Learning Lab

Rollercoaster Physics

With physics as your guide, adjust and test variables to model a gravity-defying rollercoaster. Teams record how changing variables such as height, mass, and hill position affect the run time. Using experiment results and their understanding of energy in a closed system, students will design the ultimate rollercoaster ride.

Minimum/Maximum class size: 16/32 students

Grade Level: 
6, 7 and 8
Learning Goals: 
  • Conduct a series of controlled experiments, changing the variables of mass and drop height and seeing how these changes affect a marble’s potential energy and speed.
  • Observe how after the first lift, a roller coaster car is powered by gravity operating in a closed system.
  • Identify a force as something that can causes an object to move, or to change its speed or direction.
  • Measure, record and analyze the effects of changing the variables of mass, height, and speed.
Academic Standard Strand: 
Nature of Science & Engineering
Physical Science
Experience Run Time: 
50 minutes
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
Reservation Required: 
Museum Admission plus Additional Fee
Specific Cost: 
$6 per student
Physical Location: 
Only at the Science Museum of Minnesota
Specific Location: 
Education Classrooms, Level 2

Reservations are required at least 2 weeks in advance for Learning Labs. To make your reservation, fill out the Field Trip Reservation Request, email, or call (651) 221-9444 Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.