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This short video was created to demystify the process of the center-seeking centripetal force and how it acts to keep objects moving along a curved path. The video uses footage of a looping roller coaster and a high school student swinging a cup of water around his head without spilling. It's a well-balanced, engaging explanation of what makes a roller coaster rider feel pinned to the seat -- it's not just the seat belt, it's centripetal force pushing the cars downward toward the center of the loop. Resource includes background information and discussion questions.
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Editor's Note: Why we like it -- this video does a remarkably good job of explaining why you feel a sensation of being thrown outward from the center during circular motion, although there is no outward net force. It will help students differentiate centripetal force from the fictitious "centrifugal force". See Related Materials for a video from the International Space Station that demonstrates centripetal force in a weightless environment.
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4B. The Earth
4G. Forces of Nature
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: The Case of Roller Coasters
This short video does a great job of demonstrating centripetal force and how it acts to keep objects moving along a curved path. What makes a rider on a roller coaster feel a sensation of being thrown outward from the center during a loop, although there is no outward net force? The video serves to help beginners understand the dynamics of circular motion.Link to Unit:
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Teachers' Domain: Centripetal Force - Roller Coaster Loops:
Same topic as Teachers' Domain: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force
Five-minute video of an astronaut in the weightless environment of the International Space Station, demonstrating centripetal force without the complicating interaction of gravity.relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By Physics Classroom: Centripetal Force
Detailed explanation of centripetal force and its relationship to Newton's Law of Inertia. Includes illustrations, animation, and self-paced study questions.relation by Caroline Hall
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