Cotton candy, roller coasters, and STEM

Have you ever taken your students to STEM education events at an amusement park? We’re working on a story about theme parks where students can learn while having fun, such as Ohio’s Kings Island, which holds Math and Science Days every spring. We invite you to share your experiences at these parks by leaving a comment here. We might include some comments in the story, which will be published in July.

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  1. Christine Royce
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Math education professor Mike Long and Science education professor Christine Royce have run several summer camp programs for at-risk students that focused on the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Shippensburg University. AIRTIME (Accelerating Interest in Roller coasters: Technology Integration with Mathematics Exploration) was a week long program that allowed rising tenth graders to spend a week on campus in lessons that provided hands-on experiences with amusement park rides.

    Two highlights of the program includeded in class lessons that allowed the students to first experiment with the Amusement Park Experience Kit produced by K’Nex which had both linear and circular type rides. Students were able to learn necessary concepts through engaging activities such as answering questions like “When riding the flying swings with someone who has much more mass than you, does it matter who is on the inside swing?” They then were able to construct their own linear rides to determine concepts such as kinetic and potential energy, force and motion among others.

    During the week there were also several field trips to actual amusement parks including Kennywood near Pittsburgh, Dorney Park near Elysburg, and Hershey Park. Students were able to then apply their understanding to traditional activities such as determining speed of a coaster car or exploring what happens when one gets some “air” at the top of a coaster fall by sitting on a scale.

    Overall the program was successful for all involved and provided oppportunties for learning in both a fun, engaging, and thrilling way!

  2. L Riccio
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Physics students at Bishop Ford HS have been able to visit local amusement parks like Six Flags Great Adventure and Rye Playland as part of applying science concepts discussed in the classroom to everyday, fun experiences. Students learned about Newton’s laws and the principles of velocity, acceleration, and momentum. They complete a number of webquests about amusement park design. In the spring, students create their own force meters that they use to measure g-forces on the rides. Back in the classroom, the students use the data they obtained about velocity and force and use these as background information for designing their own rides. Six Flags and Rye Playland have some great materials to help plan for the trip, and the K’nex sets are fun to use.

  3. Posted July 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

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