SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

May 24, 2016 14:48 ET

Rollercoasterology – the science behind amusement parks

University partnership with Calaway Park celebrating 10 years of bringing thrills and chills to science education

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - May 24, 2016) -  What can you learn while barreling down a track at 20 meters per second? Or when that track suddenly takes a 20-metre drop? On Friday, junior and high school students from across Alberta will find their classrooms transformed into an amusement park for the day, and learn a lot about the math, forces, and physics of some thrilling park rides.

Rollercoasterology, a partnership between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Calaway Park, is celebrating its tenth year of providing incredible learning experiences to students.

"We're absolutely thrilled to be celebrating the tenth anniversary of Rollercoasterology with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Education -- and fun -- matter," says Bob Williams, General Manager at Calaway Park.

On this special day of learning, the students go on the rides and study with the help of the Rollercoasterology workbooks, written by Phil Langill, a senior instructor in the Physics and Astronomy Department.

"Our partnership with Calaway Park has brought Alberta students a whole new way to experience science," says Langill. "They have the tools, I have crafted the workbooks, and science teachers are always looking for fun new ways to teach science concepts -- it's the perfect science trifecta. Students might get an inkling of the concept of centripetal acceleration when it's explained to them in the classroom, but when they're pasted to the seat of big spinning machine as they scream their heads off? That's when the concept comes to life. It's a connection you just can't make in the classroom, and we have Calaway Park to thank for helping us bring those connections to students."

Langill and a dedicated crew of university volunteers will help guide the students through the workbook exercises, and take part in a few rides themselves. The junior high workbook covers the concepts of simple machines, forces, and geometry, and the senior high workbook explores Newton's laws, acceleration, and energy. The workbooks analyze various rides at Calaway Park ride, including Vortex, Ocean Motion, Dream Machine, Free Fallin', and Cosmic Spin.

WHAT: Teaching the science behind amusement park rides for junior and senior high school students

WHEN: Friday, May 27, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00p.m.

WHERE: Calaway Park, west of Calgary, on the TransCanada Highway

WHO: Phil Langill, senior instructor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

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Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Erin Guiltenane
    Communications Advisor
    Faculty of Science
    University of Calgary