Welcome back to week 4 of Field Trip Friday! This week's topic is how rollercoasters work at Carowinds! You'll learn about the physics behind the Copperhead Strike, why rollercoasters make your tummy feel strange, and more.
Special thanks to Carowinds and Steve for teaching us today!
Have you ever been to Carowinds? If you have, you've probably been mesmerized by all the sights and sounds. But have you ever wondered how the rollercoasters work? Today we're in front of the Copperhead Strike - one of the newest rides at the park! One thing that makes the Copperhead Strike so cool is that it's what's known as a dual launch coaster. Let's explore what that means!
A dual launch coaster means that this ride launches TWO times instead of one, like a lot of rides you may have been on. Dual launch coasters launch two times instead of one because it doesn't have enough energy to get you all the way around the track, so it launches you a second time to get you all the way back around! Here's a fun fact about the Copperhead Strike: it's the first dual launch coaster in the Southeast region - so when you hop on this ride, you're experiencing something rare.
So how do dual launch coasters work? A big part of it is due to electromagnets - you can see them in the above photo. They kind of look like white fins or blocks along the rollercoaster track. Electromagnets are coil wires that use electricity and magnets to launch the ride, and they're SUPER powerful. So powerful that it launches this ride at 42mph in only about 3 seconds! Dual launch coasters also don't use chains - which is the click-click-click noise you typically associate with a rollercoaster. An example of a rollercoaster with a chain that you may have ridden: Fury 325.
These electromagnets are placed at the beginning of the track, and then again about halfway through. Once the rollercoaster has left the first set of magnets, it's all momentum - or movement - before you get to the second set of electromagnets. You may be asking why they make dual launch coasters if there are rollercoasters that only need one launch to get all the way around the track. The answer is that twice the launch = twice the thrill! Once you reach that second set of magnets, you experience the fun of getting launched all over again.
Have you ever wondered why rollercoasters make your tummy feel strange? It can be from several things - but for the most part, you're feeling adrenaline rush through your body. Gravity also has something to do with it - depending on what's in your stomach (how much food or drink you've had) it will affect everyone differently!
The main takeaway of this lesson:
So how can we apply the physics of a rollercoaster to our everyday life? Well, rollercoasters really aren't all that different than riding in a car! Think about when the car you're in goes around a curve in the road. Your body leans into the curve or towards the outside of the car - just like when you're riding a rollercoaster.
Rollercoasters stay on their track due to three different wheels: an up-stop wheel, a side-friction wheel, and a road wheel. The road wheel acts just like the tires on your car to keep your car on the road!