Roller Coaster Physics

A course held by David Gerdes <>, part of the Michigan Math and Science Scholars Summer Program .
The class was held for two weeks in July 2003 at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (MI) for fifteen 8th and 9th grade students.

After five days of introduction to Newton's Laws, we went to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio and took acceleration data on several roller coasters. After we returned from the park, we analysed the data for two days in the lab. On the last day, each group presented their findings to the class.

Here is some of the material we used in this course.

7 ways to determine the velocity on Millennium Force
A PowerPoint presentation byWolfgang Pfalzgraf

Afternoon Labs: Documents

Data from real roller coasters: to analyze with
Logger Pro.

Analyzing Motion: Some video files to analyze with VideoPoint software.

Pictures of the course

Notes from the Morning Lectures, by Prof. Gerdes

If you want a real roller coaster model for your lecture hall go to GDJ Inc.
Included on the site are some theories of kinematics and circular motion

LINKS to material related to the course

Documents to download:
Word, Excel, and LoggerPro file formats of the documents listed above.

This page was developed by
I was happy that I had the opportunity to visit Prof. Gerdes course.

Comments of the page to
Wolfgang Pfalzgraf
Gewerblich Industrielle Berufsschule
CH-8400 Winterthur