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A roller coaster is a balance between safety and sensation. Naturally, the ride should be as safe as possible. After all, if the people are injured riding the coaster then there would be fewer repeat riders. Fewer repeat riders means a short life span for the coaster. On the other hand, passengers ride a coaster for the death defying thrill. The key to a successful coaster is to give the rider the sensation of speed and acceleration. It all comes down to speed control.
To achieve this, the hills, curves, dips, straight always, braking systems and loops are not randomly designed. They follow some simple rules of physics.

In order to understand what is going on, students must understand the difference between velocity and acceleration.

Velocity describes how quickly an object changes it position. The higher the velocity the quicker an object travels between 2 locations. Phrases like, fast..., how quickly, are used to describe velocity. Often the word speed is substituted for the word velocity in common usage. However, technically the two are different. Velocity is actually speed with direction. For example, 60 mph, west, is a velocity. "West" is the direction and 60 mph is the speed. The units of velocity are in the form of

Acceleration describes how quickly an object changes its velocity. Phrases like, ...slow down..., ...speed up..., ...change speed... and change velocity... are used to describe accelerations. If a student wants an easy way to determine if he is visualizing acceleration or a constant velocity along a straight line he only needs to ask himself one question, "Is the object slowing down or speeding up?" If the answer is "Yes," then it is accelerating. If the answer is "No" then it is moving with a constant velocity. The units of acceleration are in the form of

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