Career of the Month: Roller Coaster Designerby: Megan Sullivan

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Thrill rides, scream machines, loop-de-loops, colossal peaks, and heart-stopping drops—roller coasters may seem to defy all laws of physics, but don’t let that sense of danger fool you. A coaster has potential energy as it is pulled to the top of the highest hill, which changes to kinetic energy as the coaster begins its descent. Once the coaster is underway—gravity, velocity, friction, and acceleration, are just a few of the physics principals controlling the ride. Although coasters are designed to be a frightening experience for passengers, in reality they are safer than crossing the street. Roller coaster designers like Kent Seko create these dynamic rides, which simulate a genuine air of peril.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:47 AM

I don't know if this still happens in the NSTA magazine, but if not, I hope they start doing it again. A great way to get students excited about science, by giving them a reason to.


  • on Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:39 PM

Most students love roller coasters and probably learned some science behind them in their physic classes. Kent describes how he got involved with designing roller coasters after there was a shortage in architectural building design jobs. Since every amusement park wants to create the next best roller coaster experience he found love for creating thrill machines while using his design skills and knowledge of the science of physics. This is an interesting job that might prove more fun than work.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:00 PM

The Career of the Month articles are a wonderful resource to share - I wish they came in different reading levels for ELL & other students. Roller Coaster Design is definitely a cool job - I just wish we could take these interviews online to make science and engineering careers really come alive!

Caryn Meirs  (Smithtown, NY)
Caryn Meirs (Smithtown, NY)

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