Roller Coasters

By Melissa La Fountain

Types of Energy in a Roller Coaster

The types of energy involved in a roller coaster are kinetic, potential, and mechanical energy.

Energy Changes

The potential energy is at its highest when the roller coaster is at the top of a hill or when it is about to start. As the roller coaster descends the hill, the potential energy decreases, increasing the kinetic energy. The change between kinetic and potential energy is mechanical.

Why Energy Change is Important

The change of energy in a roller coaster is very important. The change from potential to kinetic energy allows the coaster to accelerate and increase in speed. This lets it gain the ability to ascend hills without stopping and move throughout the track.

Wooden vs. Steel Roller Coasters

Wooden Roller Coasters: They are non-looping, and not as tall. They do not go as fast, and the hills are not as steep. The tracks are usually not as long. Wooden roller coasters are not as stable as steel roller coasters.

Steel Roller Coasters: They are looping, and taller. They go faster and they are steeper. They are more stable.