Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Sum of All Thrills

The Sum of All Thrills is an attraction inside Innoventions East at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park. What it does is try to combine a minor lesson in basic kinematics with designing your own thrill ride (half-pipe sled, roller coaster, or jet fighter). Then, after you've finished designing it, you get to ride it in a cool ride simulator.

Unfortunately, the attraction emphasized that these are "engineering" problems. While it is true that designing a roller coaster, for example, can be an engineering problem, these are also physics problems. The basic kinematics of finding the velocity needed to climb up a hill or to complete a loop is basic stuff that we encounter in a physics class. So they could have included that fact with no additional costs. Also, you are given only 2 minutes to design your ride, which is understandable because you want the crowd to move on and not linger too long before the next group comes in. But because of that, you don't pay attention to the kinematics (they display the kinematics equation on the screen when you're designing your ride). So the "learning" value isn't captured here too much.

They also have a website you can go to to continue with your thrills. You can design your ride and win points by answering a few math questions and by clicking on fun facts and trivia.

All in all, it is a fun attraction. In fact, I would say that it is the best attraction inside of the Innoventions pavilions. It is just that the educational content could be a little bit stronger. But then again, people coming here are on vacation. Do they want an education on basic kinematics?


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