The theme has been all about rollercoasters and theme parks and they have been learning about the science of rollercoasters and how this affects their design – including vital safety considerations.
Key group activities in the project so far have involved:
- ICT research into the science, design and construction of different types of rollercoaster
- Practical investigations into how the height of the drop affects how far and how fast a car will travel – also known as the “ski jump investigation”
- Construction and testing of a safety harness
- Construction and testing of simple and more complex models
- Measurements of the average speed of different sections to control speed and complete loops and curves
Their knowledge and skills have been challenged considerably in the design and construction of model paper rollercoasters, with marbles acting as the car – with some fantastic outcomes thanks to teamwork which have more than exceeded the teachers’ initial expectations. @MarrPhysics tweeted “Amazing paper rollercoasters - what a fantastic construction job! Their operation is even more impressive than their appearance :-) #STEM” – this has been shared, liked and retweeted by schools across the country, the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre and Douglas Hutchison, South Ayrshire’s Director of Education.
The models have also been showcased to senior students S4-S6 who were very impressed and also jealous – “They’re great. Why didn’t we get to do this in S2?”
Next term, the students will be busy coding simulators and heart rate monitors using the Scratch programming language, and preparing a marketing campaign for their rollercoaster to win the contract to build it in a theme park.