Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Work, Power and You - Section 4: Students Practice with Roller Coaster


The majority of students remember that the total energy remains constant and how to calculate the height and velocity using the potential energy formula and kinetic energy formula. It is essential to walk around the room on this one because there are always a few students who need prompts on how to start the assignment. 

I did notice on some of the student work sheets that they were confused on how to determine the work. I help them out by letting them know that there are two ways. One is by calculating the work with W=Fd formula. The force is the force of gravity, as this was applied to lift the roller coaster to its height (height is the distance used in W=Fd). There is also another way and that is to remember that work is the transfer of energy into the roller coaster. I ask what the starting energy is. "Zero" they answer. What is the energy at the top of the hill? "100 Joules" they answer. Where did that energy come from? "The motor" they answer. Then I have them explain to me why that is the work done.

  Staircase of Complexity: Student Work on Roller Coaster Worksheet
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Work, Power and You

Unit 3: Energy
Lesson 4 of 16

Objective: Students apply the concepts of work and power to explain how a roller coaster gets its starting energy.

Big Idea: Work is a measure of the transfer of energy and power a measure of the rate at which energy is transferred.

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