Skip to Main Content

An Introduction to the Science of Roller Coasters for Kids

Worlds of Fun announces important updates regarding the rest of the 2020 Season. Learn More.

Skip to Next Section

Introduction to the Science of Roller Coasters

Chris Foshee

I bless the rains down in Africa - adjacent to Prowler. 

Communications & social media manager at Worlds of Fun - @ChrisFoshee on Twitter

This blog is intended to be a resource for those following along with Worlds of Fun’s live stream presentation with the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center via Facebook (April 7, 2020). The following is primarily intended for a younger audience, but you do not have to be less than 42” to read.

Quick Facts About Roller Coasters

Before we dive into the science of roller coasters and how they work, here are some quick facts worth noting:

  • Over 2,400 roller coasters exist in the world today. Worlds of Fun is home to seven of them.
  • Amusement parks and roller coasters are among the safest forms of recreation.
  • Approximately 370 million guests enjoyed 1.7 billion rides in North America in 2017.
  • There are primarily two types of roller coasters: steel and wooden. However, there are 37 different variations or types of roller coasters, including hyper-coasters, inverted roller coasters and spinning roller coasters.

Roller Coaster Skyline of Worlds of Fun in Kansas City

The Science of Roller Coasters

While today’s roller coasters are sophisticated machines, they all use basic principles of science to operate. This basic science is known as physics, which is basically the study of how things move.

Most roller coaster rides begin with a lift hill, where a chain connects with the train and carries the riders to the first and tallest incline. As you reach the crest of the hill, the chain pushes the train over the hill. Gravity takes over and pulls the train down the hill into a controlled free fall.  

Mamba Science of Roller Coaster Explained

Using its weight and wheels, the train picks up enough kinetic energy (speed and momentum) to complete your journey through the track. Different types of brakes are used to stop the train at the end of a ride. These brakes use friction to slow down and stop a roller coaster’s momentum by converting the train’s kinetic energy into heat energy.

For example, roller coasters are kind of like riding your bike down a hill. You use the pedals to move a chain that makes your wheels move and climb the hill. On your way down, your bike picks up speed and momentum, and you use your brakes to control your speed and to slow down.

Roller Coaster Challenge

Now it’s time for some fun. Worlds of Fun would like to challenge you to create your own virtual roller coaster experience.

  • Visit Youtube on your mobile device or open the Youtube app on your TV. 
  • Place a couple of chairs in front (two by two works best).
  • Some parents with little kids use laundry baskets. Please exercise caution if you're holding it. 
  • Go to Worlds of Fun's YouTube Channel and visit our Roller Coaster Video (POV) Playlist.
  • Choose your ride, and hit play! 
  • If you have a VR headset, load the video up on your phone or gaming system to enjoy an even more immersive ride experience!

how to make roller coaster at home

Be sure to capture your experience on video and share it by tagging Worlds of Fun on social media for a chance to be highlighted on our channels!

Have Worlds of Fun at Home - click here for activities, resources and ideas for you and your family to create fun at home together. 

Regardless if you love them or are afraid of them, we hope that this brief introduction to the history and science behind roller coasters gives you a new appreciation for these scream machines.

Related Topics:

Share This

Chris Foshee

I bless the rains down in Africa - adjacent to Prowler. 

Communications & social media manager at Worlds of Fun - @ChrisFoshee on Twitter

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

Fury of the Nile Hosts First Responders For Training

When the park is closed, Fury of the Nile becomes a training facility for local water rescue teams. The attraction’s rushing waters and torrents provide a safe environment for first responders to develop skills that can be used to save lives.
Read More

Live Entertainment - Creating the Magic

The live entertainment at Worlds of Fun has been a long-time staple at the park. The "Words of Fun" blog invites you to join our entertainment manager, Brian Cross, as he takes you backstage for a closer look at our shows, our team and auditions process.
Read More

Introduction to the Science of Roller Coasters

While today’s roller coasters are sophisticated machines, they all use basic principles of science to operate - physics. We join the Kansas Children's Discovery Center for a live stream and introductory look into the science of roller coasters.
Read More

Kids Can Learn at Home with Fun Activities Featuring the Peanuts Gang

Looking for stimulating lesson plans to use at home with the kids? Our friends, the Peanuts Gang, have super fun STEM activities for grades K-8!
Read More

How to Have Worlds of Fun at Home

Imagination has always been a powerful entertainer. So, let’s keep the boredom at bay with some activities that will let you and your family have Worlds of Fun at home.
Read More

2019’s Most Popular Rides

2019 has come to a full stop, and the 2020 season is approaching the station. Before we ready our lap bars for another amazing adventure at Worlds of Fun, let’s take a look back at the most popular Kansas City attractions last year.
Read More

A Fresh Coat of Paint on Patriot

The 3,081' long Patriot roller coaster has a fresh coat of red, white and blue paint for 2020. Find out what all goes into painting such a massive, breathtaking roller coaster.
Read More

2020 Auditions at Worlds of Fun

Information on 2020 live entertainment jobs at Worlds of Fun, including openings and upcoming auditions in the Kansas City metro.
Read More

Autism Society 5K at Worlds of Fun

Worlds of Fun will host a 5K/1K Fun Run with the Autism Society of the Heartland on Saturday, May 2. This is the second year the park has hosted this community event, and all proceeds will benefit the lives of those affected by autism in Missouri and Kansas.
Read More

Farewell Diamond Head, Aloha Riptide Raceway

Last summer, we announced that we would be removing Diamond Head in Oceans of Fun to make room for the all-new Riptide Raceway, which will be the world’s longest mat racing slide when it debuts at our beloved waterpark in Kansas City this summer.
Read More