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Updated 15 October 2001

This section of the Physics Pavilion will discuss some of the principles involved in the design of a roller coaster. It is intended for the middle or high school teacher. Physics students may find the information helpful as well. Many of the concepts can be applied to topics other than roller coasters. Some sections will use the Roller Coaster Simulator, RCS.The included activities are hands on cookbook type. Each section includes background topics that should have been taught previously.


The Simple Roller Coaster
The Most Often Used Calculations
Getting the Coaster Started
Hills and Dips (and Projectile Motion)
Physiological Effects of Acceleration
Center of Mass
Horizontal and Banked Curves

Further Support Materials

Making the Roller Coaster Simulator
Making a Hot Wheels Train
Field Estimation Tips, Useful Formulae and Constants
Amusement Park Labs

Intro to Design: Example
Roller Coaster Test #1
Roller Coaster Test #2
Simple Coaster Practice
Answers to the Activities
Extra Credit Design Activity
One Final Note of Preparation

Online roller coaster lab New 10/2001

Roller Coaster Desginer Program for the TI-82/83 Calcualtor

Measurements for the Coasters at Paramount's Kings Dominion in Doswell Virginia

This web site has been organized into book form. It has been designed to be printed on one side of the paper. When printed it is 153 pages. You will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to read/print the files below.

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Download Part 1A of 4 (867 kb)

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Download Part 1B of 4 (893 kb)

Download Part 2 of 4 (2.0 Mb)

Download Part 3 of 4 (383 kb)

This book assumes some rudimentary knowledge of physical science. It is a simplified view of what design considerations and science a mechanical/civil design engineer must know when designing a roller coaster.

by Tony Wayne, e-mail:
Copyright 1998. The printed book as these pages may not be sold. They may be shared freely. (Just tell the author you are using them.)

A special thanks to VASTfor hosting our web site.