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Turntable Hockey: Instructor's Guide

Main Ideas

Straight line motion appears curved in a rotating frame.

Students' Task

Estimated Time: 50 minutes

Work through the Maple worksheet:

  • Make sure you understand the default pictures.
  • Try the canned examples at the end.
  • Try your own initial configurations. Compare initial velocities pointing in with those pointing out. Compare initial velocities in the direction of rotation with those in the opposite direction. Compare different values of the angular velocity.
  • Try to produce a boomerang, that is a configuration which returns to its initial position as seen by the rotating observer.
  • Try to produce a right angle, that is a configuration which makes a sudden turn of 90 degrees as seen by the rotating observer.
  • Construct a situation different from any of the preconfigured examples.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Some familiarity with Coriolis and centrifugal acceleration desirable. This is a nice follow-up to the Merry-go-round activity.



  • Have students to discuss their attempts to model boomerang, loops, and right angles.
  • Ask students to share their constructed model, and to discuss why it was chosen.


  • Are there trajectories with multiple loops?
  • Are there trajectories which loop forever?
  • What would change on the surface of the Earth?

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