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Roller Coasters-help a writer out?

  1. Jun 18, 2010 #1
    Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    I'm a freelance writer working on an article about how roller coasters work. It's to be a fairly short article for a children's Web site, so I don't need massive amounts of information (and I am doing research of my own as well), but I thought it might be fun get some tips from someone here.

    Would anyone like to explain to me in your own words how a roller coaster works, or give me a link to a great explanation?

    Also, if you want to give me any ideas on what would make this easier and more fun for a kid to learn about that would be great too.

    I will not plagiarise your wording. I am very careful about that. I only want some input.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Sounds like a fun project, given the target audience. Are you familiar with the mechanics of rollercoasters at least to the level in this article?


  4. Jun 18, 2010 #3
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Hi berkeman,
    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I have a basic understanding. I think I comprehend most of what the "mechanics" section of that article says.

    While I'm trying to avoid Wikipedia as a source of information, I hadn't thought about other types of roller coasters (besides the ones with a hill start) so thanks for that link... more to think about.

    I'm not an idiot, but I do sometimes struggle to understand some scientific stuff. But sometimes you need to understand things on a higher level in order to write about them on a child's level.
  5. Jun 18, 2010 #4
  6. Jun 18, 2010 #5
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Yes, that looks good. Thank you. :)

    I think it's coming along pretty well. I've been reading a few different pages to better understand the whole concept.

    Would you be interested in reading over the article when I finished to point out any obvious scientific errors should there be any? I'd have to email it to you as I don't want to post it.

    You don't have to. Just thought I'd ask. :)
  7. Jun 18, 2010 #6

    Doc Al

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  8. Jun 18, 2010 #7
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Yay thanks, Doc Al.
    Looks like we are finding some of the same articles as I certainly read over that last one already. :)

    This should definitely be enough to keep me going. (Enough potential energy?)

    Any takers on reading it over when I'm done? It'll only be 500-700 words. No biggie.
  9. Jun 18, 2010 #8
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    It's similar to a swinging pendulum in this way. At the highest point, it has lost its speed, so it's energy is in the form of potential energy (due to position) and not kinetic energy (due to motion). At the lowest point, it has lost its altitude, but it's going fastest, so it's energy is all kinetic and not potential. As it rises and falls, its energy flip back and forth between these two forms.
  10. Jun 18, 2010 #9


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    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Oh, that is a good one. Thanks for the laugh.

    Sure. Count me in.
  11. Jun 18, 2010 #10


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    Gold Member

    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    I would be happy to. I am an educated layperson, not a formally edumacated scientist; that might provide a good perspective. Also, I have several editor colleagues that I frequently help out by editing school-level science textbooks.
  12. Jun 18, 2010 #11
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Okay. Is there a private messaging system on this forum so I can get your email addresses? Or I suppose I could just paste it into the private message. That makes more sense now that I think about it ...
  13. Jun 18, 2010 #12
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    This been really fun and helpful. Thank you to everyone who helped. This kind of thing is way out of my comfort zone, so it's great to find people so willing to help. :) And seriously, you've made me super curious about your little Physics forum world here ... that's kind of scary. :eek:
  14. Jun 18, 2010 #13
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    Careful, hang around here too long and you will not see things the same ever again.
  15. Jun 18, 2010 #14
    Re: Roller Coasters--help a writer out?

    I have never seen things in a normal way. I'm a romantic and very curious, so you would think science would be right up my alley. But maybe physics just sounds too scary? I love to wonder how/why something works until my brain hurts ... but then I always stop. I guess for me there's always been more joy in the wondering than in the knowing.
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