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Trampolines, Energy and Foxes (Oh my!)


AlphaGeek

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Have you ever wondered how trampolines work? Anything fun or worthwhile has physics behind it, so let’s take a peek at the gymnast’s best friend:

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I hope you all enjoy my art skills. Read it and weep. :victorious:

The magic behind a trampoline can be explained in terms of energy. Let’s say that a child is bouncing up and down on the trampoline. When the child is at a maximum height, his/her potential energy due to gravity is at a maximum. Because PE= mgh, with acceleration due to gravity and mass constant, his/her PE is the greatest because height is at a maximum. However, their kinetic energy is at a minimum of 0 because the child has a velocity of zero and KE= (1/2) m v^2. When the child is in contact with the trampoline and is as low as he/she will travel, his/her PE due to gravity is now at a minimum of zero because the height is zero. However, at this point the child’s kinetic energy is greatest because the velocity at this point is at a maximum. In addition, the potential energy due to the trampoline’s springs is at a maximum. Uspring (potential energy of the spring) is greatest at this point because the displacement x of the spring is greatest at this point and Uspring = (1/2) k x^2. In other words, the spring is at its maximum stretch possible for the child and wants to return to its state of rest, so it sends the child back into the air.

If that AP B review didn't click, try watching the specimen V. vulpes exploring this bouncy apparatus. (CAUTION: Video has sound. If you're in the school library, please adjust volume level accordingly before proceeding).

Ah, discovery.

--'Geek out!

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