Overview The goal of our project was to create a “rollercoaster” on which we could calculate the theoretical kinetic and potential energy at any given point during the run. We used a simple design in order to increase the accuracy and consistency of each run. We made the run take as close to fifteen seconds as possible.
Materials We use a ball bearing as the “coaster” and PVC pipe as the track. The PVC pipes are supported on four 2x2s by several screws. The base is a small piece of plywood.
Building We first cut a piece of plywood that was 0.5 meters on each side. We also cut four 2x2s that were also 0.5 meters long. Next we cut the PVC pipes to an appropriate length so they would fit within the 0.5 meter box. Finally we constructed the basic supports and attached the PVC pipes using screws.
Testing We ran several tests and made adjustments to make sure the run lasted fifteen seconds and was consistent. The only problem we had was that the ball bearing tended to stop at the corners, so we filed down the end of each pipe to make a smoother transition.
Conservation of Energy To calculate the initial potential energy we used the equation: PE=mgh During the run we were able to calculate kinetic and potential energy by using: PE + KE = PE’ + KE’ KE=(1/2)mv 2 We did not need to find the mass of the ball because it canceled out on each side of the equation.
Conclusion By using a simple design the coaster is very consistent, and we are able to calculate the kinetic and potential energy of the ball bearing at different points throughout the run. After several hours and many tests the project was completed and presentable.