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Physics of

These Fun offers

notes students
include an adrenaline-filled
a Content Statement, Key ride TIMING TOPIC
that tackles
Words list, numerous
Notes, andand links physical
Activities for
science theories to the real world.
Trapeze artists; Pirate Ship; Russian tumblers;
This video
The Teacher’s
offers Guide
a lot ofincludes
different detailed
examples of Tumblers on see-saw, 1 jumper, 2 jumpers; Big
the concepts
where the theorypresented,
is easilyalong linkedwith question-and-
to experience in Dipper; Roller Coaster loop; Water Slide into water.
simple handouts.The Themarvel
video’sofintroduction assembles
it all is that there is 05 28 PE->KE->HEAT
a montage
control, thereofisevents that range
prediction, there is from the Or
safety. simple,
maybe it River Ride
Teacher's Notes easy-to-understand
is that things aren't out physics concepts
of control, to the
we don't more
experience 06 14 WORK=FORCExDISTANCE
the totallyones. Use the program
unpredictable, and no one to excite
gets hurt.students Slippery dip, walk up, slide down; Trapeze artist,
How physics and toeach
experience illustrate
eventhow physicsthrilling,
is exciting, occurs in man drops, woman drops.
and it getslife.
theAnd don’t pumping.
adrenalin miss Physics of Car
There Crashes,
is always that 08 00 VECTORS
also produced
nervous feelingby as Classroom
our sensesVideo tell us,andeven distributed
scream atby Tightrope; Cable car.

us, that we are
unsure, even when we understand the

The introduction puts together a montage of physics

Circle high ride; Horizontal ride; Ride with spin; Ship
with 2 motions; La Bamba; human cannonball;
Second shot into harbour; 2 from cannon; Fireworks

In Physics
events thatofrange
Fun, students will see:easily understood
from the simple, missile path -> trajectory; Free fall tower, sv graph +
ones to the more complex ones that even when we s h graph, combined graph; Right quadrant of
• Conversion
understand of potential
them, our senses energy (PE) to
describe themkinetic parabola; Fireworks shot horizontally; Fireworks
energy (KE) and back again;
differently. shot vertically up; Complete parabola; Car on ramp;
• Conversion
My of PE to KEattothe
personal experience heat
fun in straight
park always orhas me Tumblers on springboard; Bike off ramp.
head towards descents;
the little simple ones first, like Bam- 14 41 FREE FALL
• Balance
Bam's of a Race
Balloon set of orforcethe vectors;
little slide where mums and plane with engines off; Big dipper and
• Addition
dads hold on of tightly
their vectors
children.toThen givewithan weightlessness; Animated big dipper.
confidence in a on
gained, changing
to the next direction;
• Production
The physics we of see
includes: motion that traces
Converting a
potential Merry-go-round; Dummy off seat; Truck crash into
energy (PE) to kinetic energy (KE) and back again; wall.
• The parabola
Converting PE topathKE and
to heat weightlessness;
in straight or complex 16 45 HORIZONTAL RIDES
• Radial acceleration
descents; Balancing atoset getof around a horizontal
force vectors; Adding Merry-go-round animation; Merry-go-round at night,
several force vectors to give an acceleration in a vector diagram; Tasmanian Devil circular ride;
• Radial acceleration to get around a vertical Circus horse rides; Big Dipper track banking;
changing direction; Producing projectile motioncorner;
Witches Fury with attached accelerometer; Fast
• Changing
traces rotational
a parabola; speeds and
The parabola pathangular
Ferris Wheel.
momentum; Radial acceleration to get round a
• The distribution
corner horizontally;of massacceleration
Radial in rotating objection;
to get round and
a La Bamba; Very fast Ferris Wheel; Looping Roller
• Rotational
corner inertia.
vertically; Using components of Fg with banking Coaster.
tracks to make it easier to get around a corner; 19 16 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
Changing rotational speeds and angular momentum; Spinning Aerialist; Increasing angular velocity;
The will view
distribution more in
of mass than 50 physics
rotating objects,concepts
rotationalin Animation on spinning seat.
Duration: 23 min this program. To help navigate the content, the
inertia. 20 50 MOMENT OF INERTIA
To are assembled
help navigate through the belowoverunder the headings
50 examples we have Aerialist on rope; Trapeze artist swinging; Pirate
Years: 11-12 where theythem
assembled appear as in
thethe video.statement below,
content Ship pendulum.
under the headings as they occur in the video.
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KEY WORD LIST WORK=FORCExDISTANCE The Free Fall Tower takes you up and drops you
Energy conservation, energy conversion, energy transfer, When we walk up the stairs of the slippery dip, 3/4 of down. The investigation starts by making a
energy loss, potential energy (PE), kinetic energy (KE), our food fuel is used in running our body and 1/4 is distance or displacement picture of its fall. Falling
fuel, inertia, heat, velocity, speed, acceleration, weight converted to PE. In walking up the stairs we are doing
force or gravity force (Fg), orbital speed, angular velocity
1 2
from rest, the relationship s = at lets us find
work by applying a force just larger than Fg and 2
(w), centripetal force (Fc), normal or reaction force (FN), moving it through the height of the stairs. At the top of how far it travelled in each time interval - each 1/25
tension force (Ft), centripetal acceleration ac, turbulence, the stairs our PE = Fgh = mgh. We will do the same th of a second, the time between each video
frictional force Ffr, catapult, missile. work in sliding down and our PE is converted into KE frame, or each second.
and heat through friction; we reach a terminal velocity. (Q12.)
The slide should be called the "friction dip".(Q7, 8.) This becomes the vertical axis for our picture. To
POTENTIAL AND KINETIC ENERGY As the trapeze artists fall into the safety net, we again get the horizontal movement we add the second
As the trapeze artist swings, her initial potential energy see a force applied to stop them, and this force moves component, travelling the same distance
is converted into kinetic energy. This conversion through a distance as the elastic rope stretches. So horizontally each time interval, so no acceleration.
increases her velocity from zero to what it would have the work done by the rope = mgh = the average By combining these 2 components, half a
been in free fall. As KE is a scalar quantity, this velocity stopping force stopping distance = Fs. parabola is produced. The family of parabolas is
will take on the direction of the swing arc at any time. (Q9.) produced by having a different horizontal velocity
The vertical velocity changes are interesting as they lead
for each. Each falls the same vertical distance in
to the concept of simple harmonic motion, SHM. (Q1, 2.) VECTORS the same time. The rules also apply to a missile
The Pirate ship shows the conversion of PE to KE to We could calculate this stopping force using a vector shooting upwards. It is also accelerating
PE. But it is not a simple pendulum, and so the velocity diagram. This same vector diagram is useful in downward and so its velocity is reduced by 9.8
at the bottom is not as fast as it could be. working out the tension in a tightrope. ms-1 each second until it stops at the top of its
(Q3.) (Q10.) flight.
The same conversion is seen with the Russian tumblers.
The complete parabola results when the missile
Notice the effect of starting with twice the amount of PE; COMPONENTS OF MOTION has the same horizontal velocity on the way up as
the catapulted tumbler rises 2x as high. Complex motion is made of several simple on the way down - our Human Cannon Ball, or the
Again in the Big Dipper we see the same conversion. In movements combined. Each of these are termed car jumping 3 cars using a ramp. The tumblers
the Roller Coaster the energy lost on each run has to be components and by examining them one at a time, catapulted from the springboard also demonstrate
made up before the next journey, otherwise there would the resulting motion can be better understood, and this.
be a real problem. To stop the journey in the end, more even better experienced! There is something else to be seen as the bike
energy has to be lost. The brakes are applied and things If La Bamba was a horizontal ride travelling at the rider launches from the ramp. Both paths, his and
get noisy and hot. The Water Slide is a variation of this. same speed our experiences would be different; the bike's, are parabolic, they both have the same
(Q4, 5, 6.) something is added by rotating in a vertical plane. horizontal velocity (minus the little push). As they
Four different experiences are added: falling, stopping both fall, the rider will no longer feel the bike
PE->KE->HEAT the fall, accelerating upwards, and being catapulted. pushing up against his weight force. They are both
Both the river water and the boat are lifted to gain PE, (Q11.) in free fall together.
the energy for the ride down. This is converted to KE The Human Cannon Ball also experiences complex (Q13.)
during the ride. Luckily it is designed so the water motion, in fact each of the four sensations just listed An airplane with its engines off, and a minor
quickly reaches terminal velocity as friction and above. But is this path part of a circle? We find out by adjustment to compensate for wing uplift,
turbulence constantly remove energy from the system. dividing the trajectory into just 2 components, one becomes a missile. It follows the path of a
Again the water heats up. looking at the vertical movement, and the other the parabola as it falls. The passengers experience
horizontal movement.
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this same weightlessness as they are free-falling found. The banking appears "flat" as does the water
together with the plane. They temporarily feel the surface. In text books the frame of reference is
sensation of zero gravity. Whenever the plane follows usually the Earth and not the car. The only 2 forces T = 4seconds, r = 8metres
part of the inverted parabolic path, even when going up, acting are F N and Fg and as the car doesn't slip on the
the passengers experience free-fall. The track of the Big
 2π 2
= 19.7ms −1
bank, Fg must be balanced by an equal and opposite 2
Dipper has this same parabolic path and so the riders force, -Fg. But the only force in this direction is FN so - ∴a c = rω = 8 ×
will momentarily feel the fun of being weightless or free- 4 
Fg must be a component of FN with Fc, the centripetal
2π r
= 12.6ms −1
falling with the carriage. force, being the other component. Fc is the
At the bottom of the Big Dipper dips however, theres a unbalanced force acting towards the centre of the and v =
payback, the carriage pushes back on the riders very circular track.
hard. They have to stop falling and then be catapulted At the top, from F = ma
back up in a short time. This push changes the direction F
c or F = m.g.tan α FN + mg = ma
of travel very quickly. tan α = m.g
On a Merry-go-round we experience a continuous force ∴ FN = ma − mg
causing us to constantly change direction, but we retain 2 2
the same speed. This force, called a centripetal force, but F = mv ∴ m.g.tan α = mv or F = m[19.7 − 9.8], so F = 10m newtons.
c r r N N
keeps pulling us sideways, horizontally towards the
centre. Without this pull we would go straight ahead. or v2 = r.g.tanα At the bottom, from F = ma
But this centripetal force is different to the forces we F − mg = ma
experience in the dip. Three forces appear to act: the ∴v = r.g.tanα N
tension in the rope, Ft, and the gravitational force, Fg, are ∴ F = ma + mg
constantly balanced, to give the required centripetal Phew!! It would have been a real mess if "m" was still N
force (Fc). Because Fc is a component of our weight a variable. (Q15.) or F = m[19.7 + 9.8], so F = 30m newtons.
force, the experience is similar to leaning into a corner to N N
turn a pushbike. (Q14.) VERTICAL RIDES.
The vector diagram shows the 3 forces acting: Ft + Fc = In the La Bamba we experience 2 vertical events.
Firstly the seat or ride has to accelerate us up, and to ANGULAR MOMENTUM
Fg. Such a combination, where the weight force is the
do this it has to apply a force greater than Fg, and The spinning aerialist, as her assistant applies a
resultant of the 2 others, gives a horizontal centripetal
then it has to launch us. If the top of the seat torque, spins faster and faster, gaining angular
force that is not bone shattering. In fact it is very gentle
decelerates vertically faster than we do, then we float velocity and angular momentum. With no more
as seen acting on the acrobats on horseback,
off the seat and free-fall. At the bottom, the seat help, her angular momentum, Iw, will not change.
constantly moving them in their circle.
slows us down to zero and then starts launching us But by changing her radius of rotation, her angular
And it is the same for the fast train ride - the Witches
again. velocity must change to conserve her angular
Fury. By using the attached water tank as an
On the Fast Ferris Wheel example, measurements momentum. (Q17.)
accelerometer, a clearer picture emerges. As the car
moves into the curved banked section of the ride, the can be made to show that at the bottom of the ride I1ω1 = I2ω 2
water surface in the tank and the pendulum are no use in the push that the seat gives us is about 3x Fg, while
telling where the horizon is. But they do tell us other at the top we stay pushed to the seat with a force of But I = kmR 2
things, and help locate the same 3 forces again. The about Fg. (Q16.) So if R increases then I will increase dramatically.
camera is attached to the car and as it banks, the Therefore w must equally decrease for Iw to
EarthÕs horizon appears to tilt anti-clockwise. By remain the same.
pausing the video this new horizon and thus Fg can be The animation works through the same logic.
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This has to do with the way rotating objects respond to
an applied torque because of the distribution of their
As the trapeze artist changes the position of her centre Producer
of mass, she changes the period of the pendulum she is
part of, and can thus speed it up or slow it down. The John Willis/John Davis
swing frequency of a physical pendulum is governed by Editor/FX
this mass distribution. In a simple pendulum the mass is
concentrated at the end, and the formula used to Roderick Balle
calculate the period is an approximation. (Q18.) Sound

For a physical pendulum the period, T, is given by : Konrad Skirlis

I Executive Producer
T = 2π mgh
John Davis
For a simple pendulum the period, T, is given by : Teachers notes

T = 2π gl John Willis

If the Pirate Ship was not a compound physical

pendulum then the period of the swing would be much
less, and the speed at the bottom would certainly make
us scream! (Q19.)
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1. Make measurements from the video to determine the speed of the trapeze artist. Remember the time between each video frame is 1/25 th seconds.
Her height is about 1.6 metres, and her mass is about 60kg.

2. What are the units of Energy? How can we find out her PE? Calculate the PE lost as she falls. If all this PE converts to KE, use mgh = 1/2mv 2 to
calculate her speed at the bottom of the arc. Does this value agree with your answer in Q1?

3. Calculate the speed of the Pirate Ship at the bottom of its arc. Does the ship work like a simple pendulum?

4. Try working out the speed of the Big Dipper at the bottom of its run if all its PE was converted to KE.

5. The Roller Coaster travels through a tear-drop loop. Why is it this shape? Its velocity or speed on entering this loop of 7 metres diameter is about 7ms -
. What is its speed at the top of the loop? Use measurements from the video and calculate its PE and KE to check.

6. Describe all the energy changes that occur with the Roller Coaster from getting on to getting off. Do the same for the Water Slide.

7. What would your PE gain be in walking up the stairs of the Slippery Dip? If 1 joule of fuel is contained in a 0.25 mm grain of sugar, how many sugar
grains would you have used as fuel to climb the stairs?

8. What would your speed be at the bottom if all this PE was converted to KE? Show that your mass is not part of this calculation. OR: Why do all sliders
reach the same velocities? I worked it out to be about 14 ms -1 or about 50 km/hr. Why would this be a problem at the end of the slide? What could be
done? Why do they close this "friction dip" when it rains?

9. The trapeze artist falls 6 metres from her swing into the safety net. How long before she hits the net? How fast is she going when she hits? What is
the stopping force she experiences if her mass is 60kg? There are several ways of finding this. Try others and see how closely they agree.
10. The angle the tightrope makes to the horizontal is about 3 . Use a vector diagram and calculations to find the tension in the rope. Is this a small value
or a large one?

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Questions (cont'd)
11. There is a lot we can find out from La Bamba! First list all the things that change during one revolution. Then record how you experience these changes,
especially with your feet. What do you feel during each quarter of a revolution? What would you experience if La Bamba went slower? If it went faster?

12. There are rides in some Fun Parks where the ride is similar to La Bamba, but horizontal. Describe one such ride. What is the difference in what you

13. This question refers to the Free Fall Tower. Try to work out things about the tower. How high is it? How long does the car take to fall? How is it stopped?
1 2
Given the equation s = at , which tells us how far something falls under Fg each second, calculate how far the car falls each 0.1 of a second. Can you find its
final velocity?

14. Examine the bike rider launching from the ramp. Try to take some measurements from the video. Is it real time or has it been slowed down? If the video is in real
time then the time of his fall is 2.4 seconds. Why is this probably not true? Find his horizontal velocity as he leaves the ramp. Why did he push back on the bike? Did
the bike push on him? What would this change?
Many old movies were shot at 16 frames per second, the video plays at 25 f/ps.

15. Draw a force diagram showing how a cyclist turns a corner without turning the handlebars. Include those forces between the horizontal road and the wheel as

16. As the Witches Fury moves into the fast section of the track, pause the video and examine the Earth's horizon and the water surface in the tank. Draw what you
notice. What are the only 2 forces that act on the car? Draw the accelerometer from the EarthÕs frame of reference. Complete a force vector diagram to show th
origin of the centripetal force Fc. Show that Fc does not depend on the masses involved.

17. Using the Fast Ferris Wheel footage determine T, the period of rotation, r, the radius of the wheel and use a = rω to determine the centripetal acceleration.
What is the velocity of the car?
What are the forces on you at the top, sides & bottom of the ride?

18. Explain how tumblers change their angular velocity.

19. Locate examples of pendulums in action. Calculate their period, T. Place these results in a table together with the length of the pendulum. Draw a graph of length
against the period of the swing. Comment on any examples where the results do not fit the general pattern.

20. Examine the Pirate Ship footage. Does the seat include a harness? Would a harness be necessary?
Passengers fear losing things from their pockets. Comment on this. If all the PE that the Pirate Ship has at the top of its swing converted into KE, what would its final
velocity be at the bottom of the swing? Why does this not occur?

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