This past Sunday, I explored an old carriage trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. As I hauled my bike uphill, I realized how scary this winding trail must have been to passengers in the horse-drawn carriages going downhill.
Carriage drivers most likely unloaded passengers before ascending or descending hills to lighten the load on the poor horses who faced the possibility of an out-of-control ride --and a driver limited to manually slowing down steel-rimmed wheels with wooden blocks. It's no wonder that early transportation systems favored water and canals to transport heavy goods and passengers, rather than over land!
How we move relies on acceleration to cover distance, but also depends on an ability to decelerate for obstacles like the hill in this photo. Bike rides are a great way to explore the physics of brakes and to compare with the braking systems used in motorcycles and cars.
Share the wonder in your classroom with https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-do-car-brakes-work
And explore the future of automated vehicles: https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/can-a-car-drive-itself
Books to share: