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Theme Park Science with Jell-O® Loop-De-Loops

by Teisha Rowland, PhD
Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
1 to 2 days
Key Concepts
physics, forces, motion, centripetal force, circular motion
Experimental setup for investigating centripetal force using a plastic cup with a marble trapped between two layers of different colored Jell-O.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what keeps you in your seat when you are riding a giant loop-de-loop roller coaster? Surprisingly, it is not the seat belt! You are kept in your seat because of something called centripetal force. Centripetal force actually does much more than make a ride on a roller coaster's loop possible — it keeps a satellite in orbit and you in your bicycle when taking a tight curve! In this science activity, you will use marbles and Jell-O® to investigate centripetal force and circular motion. Which way will the marbles go?

Credits

Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,150 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Transparent plastic cups (at least 4)
  • Scissors or one-hole puncher
  • Flashlight
  • Duct tape or electrical tape
  • Marbles (at least 3)
  • String, 10 inch piece
  • Jell-O (2 packages, each a different color)
  • Cooking pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Stove
  • Refrigerator
  • An open area outside
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Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
1 to 2 days
Key Concepts
physics, forces, motion, centripetal force, circular motion