fbpx

A Rollercoaster 6th Form Physics Field Trip

Posted · Add Comment

On Friday 17th October, fifteen determined A-Level physics and mathematics students, along with Ms Mitchell and Mr Dey, bravely entered a world of unbalanced forces known only as Flamingo Land. Upon arrival the group was guided around the theme park by two education officers who laid the foundation for the science by describing the context of each ride, and explaining the primary mathematics and physics at work. The students impressed all with their focused questions and thoughtful and intelligent responses.

The students learning all about roller coaster design – and the fascinating use of Clothoid loops.

The students learning all about roller coaster design – and the fascinating use of Clothoid loops.

Having already been organised into teams by Mrs Mitchell, and provided with both a mathematical and physics checklist, the group sallied forth to brave the rides and to record as much data as they could manage. Their aim: to prepare a group presentation on two contrasting rides. All entered into the spirit of the project with real enthusiasm and, it must be said, great diligence. It is a rare sight to observe so many teenagers scattered around a theme park making calculations based on estimates, measurements and researched data. Michael and Oliver even managed to get within a few percent of the actual maximum velocity of one particular ride – no doubt we will be hearing more about this brilliant piece of physics in their presentation!
flamingo-land2[1]
After lots of estimation, calculations and field research, along with some rather fine use of a data logger, the group was able to generate graphs such as the one below which serves to illustrate and enhance the syllabus, both mathematically and in physics.

Displacement and acceleration data ready to analysed back in the lab.

Displacement and acceleration data ready to analysed back in the lab.

The students were also given the task of taking lots of photos to use in their group presentations, as illustrated below in a rather well framed shot by Arthur Green.

A perfect place to experience the concepts presented in the lab.

A perfect place to experience the concepts presented in the lab.

All had a rich and rewarding day and almost all enjoyed the rides!

Mrs Mitchell & I would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the staff of Flamingo Land for all their hard work and input. The lecture was perfectly pitched and really did set the tone for a fun and educational adventure.

Thanks also the all the students who attended – you really were a credit to the school.

Mr N Dey – Head of Physics

PS… The rumours about the physics minion are false – I was simply demonstrating projectile motion… badly!

Leave a Reply