So, I guess I this should be a post about the Higgs Boson as the announcement yesterday was quite a big deal. However, it’s not for three reasons:
1. There is a lot of stuff on it already out there.
2. Despite spending time yesterday reading several articles and watching videos involving ping pong balls and sugar, I still don’t know enough about it to make a meaningful contribution.
3. I found this video which is amazing: real-life hot wheels!
You could show your students the stunt and ask them how they think it works. A lot of the comments I have read on the videos show that some people think it is a fake or magnets are involved!
This would be a great starter for a physics lesson on circular motion and centripetal force. Can the students use forces (and a diagram) to explain why the cars don’t fall off mid-loop? How would the drivers feel at each stage of the track?
You could discuss the variables that would affect the success of the stunt. How did the engineers know it would work? Would the students trust their life to physics?
The video below shows the drivers talking about this before the stunt took place.
For KS5 classes you could use the F = (mv²)/r equation to calculate the centripetal force. The mass of the cars was 1300 kg, the radius of the loop was 9 m and the velocity of the cars entering the loop was 77 km/h.
This experiment shows how students can set up their own loop the loop track using a ball bearing to look at the relationship between potential and kinetic energy.