Friday, March 30, 2012

Roller Coaster Physics: The Best Kind of Science!

We all remember parts of our school days, learning about all sorts of things that make the world go round. Some things were more interesting than others. Most of the time, recess and lunch topped the "Favorite Subjects" list. But not for the Fourth Graders at Fairview Elementary School. Yesterday, they would all say their favorite subject was physics! Potential energy, friction, and gravitational forces... sounds like a blast, right? Not really? How about when the President of Waldameer comes and teaches you about physics and how it relates to roller coasters! Now we are taking!
Learning all about kinetic energy and the effects of friction.

To bring a real cool, real world example of physics to the students, Steve Gorman visited the school for an hour of fun taking about everything dealing with roller coasters. With a background in mechanical engineering and over 16 years of experience of amusement parks, Mr. Gorman kept the fourth graders on the edge of their seats while they learned about air time, centripetal forces, and how roller coasters stay on the tracks.

Up close and personal with parts of Waldameer's roller coasters.

Seeing some parts from Waldameer's coasters and learning all about how roller coaster designers use physics to make coasters safe made everyone excited for the upcoming season at Waldameer. With a new appreciating of how roller coasters work, maybe the students will ride the Ravine Flyer II this summer and pay more attention to the moments of greatest potential and kinetic energy and when the most friction occurs between the screams and laughter... then again, maybe not!
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