Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Teaching Physics Using Roller Coasters

Granted, not many schools (is there even one?) will have a roller coaster on campus to be used to teach physics. So do the next best thing. Bring the kids to an amusement park and let them ride these coasters!

That's what happened during Physics Day at a Six Flags amusement park.
They are here for the one day a year the amusement park is closed to the general public, while the roller coasters and other thrill rides become tools in a unique learning experience.
Faletti uses amusement park videos throughout the year. Her students have done the math problems and diagrams, explaining the physics behind the rides. Today they carry instruments to help them do their own calculations.

One is called an accelerometer, which measures the force of gravity on the roller coaster. Another is a protractor to measure centripetal force on the circle rides.
Let me just say that it is extremely nice of these amusement park operators to have a special day for just this. So let's tip our hats to them. I hope the kids had fun AND learn some physics at the same time.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I very much approve of this kind of excursion day because it makes kids hate school slightly less.

It also strikes me as really hard to actually teach any physics by this method. But I admire anyone who succeeds! And even if no one learns anything, it's still a good idea.