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This site contains activities and resources that will teach you about centripetal force. Click the links to learn more.

 

What is centripetal force?

Centripetal force is: (source: Amusement Park Physics)

"Motion along a curve or through a circle is always caused by a centripetal force. This is a force that pushes an object in an inward direction. The moon orbits the earth in a circular motion because a force of gravity pulls on the moon in an inward direction toward the center of its orbit. "

The video demo (quicktime) below demonstrates how centripetal force works on a marble and what happens when it is removed.


Centripetal force is more commonly referred to as centripetal acceleration, since it is really a change in velocity. Download centripetal force notes (word document) to learn how centripetal force works on a passenger in a turning car.

Where is centripetal force on a roller coaster?

After learning what what centripetal force is, where on a roller coaster would centripetal force be? Write a hypothesis that predicts where centripetal force would be located on the coaster shown below. Download worksheet (pdf or word).

Move the mouse cursor over the picture and the areas of where centripetal force will be shown. Rember Newton's first law of motion, inertia, states that an object that is in motion will remain in motion in a straight line, unless acted on by an outside force. What force is making the cars change direction in those areas? Write your answer down.