Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters

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1 Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters By Alden Wicker Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters Have you been to the amusement park lately? If you have, you might have taken a ride on the bumper cars. They are the small cars in a pavilion, with rubber bumpers around them. You can drive them around, and crash into other cars, including the cars that your friends and family are driving. It s fun because you don t usually get to smash into things on purpose! And you certainly couldn t smash your parents car into someone else s that would be dangerous. But here, it s OK. Sometimes, if you plan it out with another friend in another car, you can trap someone in a corner by parking two cars on either side of them. They ll get mad at first, but once you let them out they ll probably think it s really funny. That s what bumper cars are all about! Have you ever thought about how bumper cars work? They don t have big rubber wheels, like regular cars do. You don t fill them up with gas to make them go. They actually get their energy from electricity. Sticking up out of the back are poles. These poles are connected to the ceiling. Electricity comes through the poles and down to the bumper cars, so that when you step on the gas pedal, the car moves forward.

2 Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters Usually, energy is generated inside of a car using an engine, which is operated using gas. The gas makes the pistons inside the engine move up and down. The movement of the pistons generates electricity, which goes into the battery. From there, the electricity goes to the wheels to make them move. The energy from the battery also goes up to the dashboard to make the radio and lights work, and charge your mobile phone. Anything that uses electricity in the car relies on the engine to generate that electricity. But in bumper cars, the energy has been generated in an energy plant far away. Then it travels to the amusement park, to the bumper car pavilion, and down into your car. That s a long way for it to travel! But even though your bumper car doesn t have an engine to make a lot of noise, it s still pretty noisy in there! Every time you smash your bumper car into your friend s or cousin s car, you transfer some of the energy from your bumper car to theirs. You can tell, because their car will move backwards or sideways when you hit it. Also, both cars go bam! That loud noise is energy being transferred to the air around the cars. Electricity is also used to power the flashing lights at the rides, and create the music coming out of the speakers. When you re at the amusement park, you ll probably ride a rollercoaster or two if you re not too scared! Roller coasters are so exciting because they move really, really fast up and down and around in loops. They may seem really different from bumper cars they move faster and higher, they are scarier, and you have to be a certain height to ride them but they have some similarities to bumper cars. For example, roller coasters are moved forward using electricity, too. Electricity cranks the mechanism under the tracks that slowly pulls the cars to the top of the first hill. Then, when the cars shoot forward down the hill and everyone is screaming, electricity is still propelling them forward. It takes a lot of electricity to make a roller coaster go so fast. It s really heavy, especially with so many people riding it! Roller coasters generate energy in other ways too. Like with bumper cars, roller coasters make a lot of noise. You can hear them going click-click-click-click as they go up a hill, and then they roar as they fly around corners and through loop-di-loops. That s energy being transferred to the air as the wheels fly over the tracks. And if you could touch the tracks with your hand (you can t because it s dangerous) you would feel that they are very warm. That s because sometimes energy from things moving really fast creates not just sound and movement, but heat, too.

3 Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters Earlier, we talked about how most cars usually use gas to make energy. But more and more cars are being made that work kind of like bumper cars and roller coasters! Instead of using gas, they use electricity that is created at an energy plant far away. When the car is parked, you plug it in. That charges up the car, and then when it s ready, you can unplug the car and drive it for a while until it runs out of energy. These cars look like regular cars, inside and outside. But because they don t have a noisy engine right inside the front creating electricity, they are much quieter. Just don t get them confused with bumper cars and roller coasters. It s probably not a good idea to run into another car like bumper cars do, or go flying up and down hills really fast, like roller coasters do!

4 Questions: Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters Name: Date: 1. According to the passage, what makes bumper cars and roller coasters move? A energy from electricity B energy from gasoline C energy from solar panels D energy from nuclear plants 2. The noise of a roller coaster is an effect. What is the cause of this noise? A energy being generated by the electricity that cranks the mechanism under the tracks B energy being transferred to the roller coaster wheels from the air nearby C energy being transferred to the air as the roller coaster wheels fly over the tracks D sound effects created by a speaker system at the amusement park 3. Read the following sentence from the passage: Every time you smash your bumper car into your friend s or cousin s car, you transfer some of the energy from your bumper car to theirs. You can tell, because their car will move backwards or sideways when you hit it. Based on this information, what can be concluded about what happens when energy is transferred? A More energy is created when energy is transferred. B Electricity is generated when energy is transferred. C There is an observable effect when energy is transferred. D There is no observable effect when energy is transferred. 4. Based on the passage, what can be concluded about how electricity powers other objects? A Electricity must be generated in the same location as the objects that will use the electricity s energy. B Electricity can travel long distances before its energy is used to power different objects. C Electricity can only power other objects if it is generated through the movement of pistons. D Electricity can only power other objects if it is generated in an energy plant. 1

5 Questions: Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters 5. What is the article Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters mostly about? A the history of the roller coaster B the differences between bumper cars and roller coasters C how bumper cars and roller coasters work using electricity D how the engine of a car works 6. Read the following sentences: The gas makes the pistons inside the engine move up and down. The movement of the pistons generates electricity, which goes into the battery. From there, the electricity goes to the wheels to make them move. The energy from the battery also goes up to the dashboard to make the radio and lights work, and charge your mobile phone. Anything that uses electricity in the car relies on the engine to generate that electricity. As used in the passage, the word generate is similar to which word? A to lower B to waste C to prevent D to make 7. Choose the answer that best completes the sentence below. energy can travel to the amusement park, to the bumper car pavilion, and down into your car, it is created in an energy plant far away. A After B Before C Because D Although 8. What happens to some of the energy in a bumper car when it smashes into another bumper car? 2

6 Questions: Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters 9. How does electricity move roller coaster cars? 10. The author compares bumper cars with roller coasters. How are bumper car and roller coasters the same? Use information from the passage to support your answer. 3

7 Teacher Guide & Answers: Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters Teacher Guide & Answers Passage Reading Level: Lexile According to the passage, what makes bumper cars and roller coasters move? A energy from electricity B energy from gasoline C energy from solar panels D energy from nuclear plants 2. The noise of a roller coaster is an effect. What is the cause of this noise? A energy being generated by the electricity that cranks the mechanism under the tracks B energy being transferred to the roller coaster wheels from the air nearby C energy being transferred to the air as the roller coaster wheels fly over the tracks D sound effects created by a speaker system at the amusement park 3. Read the following sentence from the passage: Every time you smash your bumper car into your friend s or cousin s car, you transfer some of the energy from your bumper car to theirs. You can tell, because their car will move backwards or sideways when you hit it. Based on this information, what can be concluded about what happens when energy is transferred? A More energy is created when energy is transferred. B Electricity is generated when energy is transferred. C There is an observable effect when energy is transferred. D There is no observable effect when energy is transferred. 4. Based on the passage, what can be concluded about how electricity powers other objects? A Electricity must be generated in the same location as the objects that will use the electricity s energy. B Electricity can travel long distances before its energy is used to power different objects. C Electricity can only power other objects if it is generated through the movement of pistons. D Electricity can only power other objects if it is generated in an energy plant. 5. What is the article Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters mostly about? A the history of the roller coaster B the differences between bumper cars and roller coasters C how bumper cars and roller coasters work using electricity D how the engine of a car works 1

8 Teacher Guide & Answers: Bumper Cars and Roller Coasters 6. Read the following sentences: The gas makes the pistons inside the engine move up and down. The movement of the pistons generates electricity, which goes into the battery. From there, the electricity goes to the wheels to make them move. The energy from the battery also goes up to the dashboard to make the radio and lights work, and charge your mobile phone. Anything that uses electricity in the car relies on the engine to generate that electricity. As used in the passage, the word generate is similar to which word? A to lower B to waste C to prevent D to make 7. Choose the answer that best completes the sentence below. energy can travel to the amusement park, to the bumper car pavilion, and down into your car, it is created in an energy plant far away. A After B Before C Because D Although 8. What happens to some of the energy in a bumper car when it smashes into another bumper car? Suggested answer: Some of the energy in the bumper car transfers to the other bumper car it smashes into. 9. How does electricity move roller coaster cars? Suggested answer: Electricity cranks the mechanism under the tracks that slowly pulls the cars to the top of a hill. Electricity continues to propel the cars forward as they make their way down the hill. 10. The author compares bumper cars with roller coasters. How are bumper car and roller coasters the same? Use information from the passage to support your answer. Suggested answer: Students should explain that both bumper cars and roller coasters require energy from electricity to move. Advanced answers may also explain that the energy in both bumper cars and roller coasters is transferred. Bumper cars transfer energy to other bumper cars when they smash into them and roller coasters transfer energy in the form of sound as the wheels fly over the tracks. 2

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