swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands

Amusement Park Physics Assignment



On Wednesday I will lead my students on a field trip to the local amusement park (Great America). The goals of this trip are quite simple and summed like this: how do I apply concepts learned in class to scenarios outside of the school setting?

  • To think about:
    • How is the protractor device used to measure acceleration? Distance?
    • Ideas to measure height: golf distance binoculars, Google maps, similar triangle shadows, increasing the distance and re-measuring angle of height sighting
    • Using an iPhone app might help: gForce (or similar), stopwatch
  • Structure of Report
    • You will be given a puzzle to solve: finding a value for a Physics-related quantity as it relates to a specific point on a specific ride.
    • Your task is to design a method for measuring the quantities you will need to know, collect the required data, and perform the necessary calculations to determine the value you are looking for.
    • You will figure out how you will go about making your measurements.
  • Rules
    • Your group may contain up to three people.
    • You will be assigned a series of three tasks, each associated with one ride.
    • The data collection must be completed by the end of the day.  The write-up will be collected at the beginning of the class on Monday, April 23rd
    • In the collection of data, some estimation is allowed, but only insofar as it is used to approximate values that could not possibly be arrived at using readily available equipment.  All estimates require justification/explanation as to their validity and accuracy.
    • Your group will supply its own timer (stopwatch) and accelerometer (quadrant). In addition, using a video camera, still frame camera or range finder would prove very useful.
  • The Final Report
    • Structure of Report
      • Follow all guidelines as stated by the guidelines used for this class
      • Any additional media submissions should be cleared with the instructor beforehand
      • You will be required to use “” for your report
    • Rules
      • I do not expect your report to be long but I do expect it to be clear, readable, thorough, and accurate.
      • If your results seem made-up, unreasonable, or too similar to those of other groups, your results will be disqualified
  • Extra Credit
    • If you complete the assignment according the these guidelines (and only if you complete all of them), you may petition the instructor to consider awarding extra points for demonstration of concepts above and beyond those specified.
    • Please contact the instructor for more details.


This entry was posted on 2011-04-11 by in Physics Honors, SHP and tagged , , .


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