Students making sense of motion in a vertical roller coaster loop

Ann-Marie Pendrill, Moa Eriksson, Urban Eriksson, Kim Svensson, Lassana Ouattara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Describing the motion in a vertical roller coaster loop requires a good understanding of Newton's laws, vectors and energy transformation. This paper describes how first-year students try to make sense of force and acceleration in this example of non-uniform circular motion, which was part of a written exam. In addition to an analysis of the exam solutions by about 60 students, a group interview was performed a couple of weeks later with four students, who had all passed the exam. The interview allowed the students to reflect on assumptions made and information missed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number065017
JournalPhysics Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sept 25

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Sciences
  • Didactics

Free keywords

  • Acceleration
  • amusement park physics
  • force and motion


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