swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
Objective: Determine the average stopping force of the water on a log in the water ride as it comes to a stop after the ride down the chute.
Approach: We clearly need a handle on the core physics of the problem. What are the major concepts? It seems as though this might revolve around the idea of energy and energy conservation (or lack thereof). Consider the log at the top of the ride: it has a constant speed and is about to shoot down the long slide ramp. At the bottom of the ramp it has a greatly increased speed, having increased its velocity with almost no friction. So we have: top = low KE and bottom = higher KE. The sudden slowing at the bottom occurs over a very short distance. Over this short distance almost all of the KE is taken away by the water. Kinetic energy becomes work and since work = force times distance, simply measuring the distance will allow you to calculate the force applied. The tricky part might actually be to determine the velocity of the log at the bottom of the ride. Yet by measuring time and distance near the bottom this, too, can be easily tackled.