As far as school goes, most of the actual teaching and learning takes place in the school building itself. Students slouch in metal chairs as teachers gesticulate enthusiastically about the topic at hand. It's often hard for students to make the connection between what's being taught in the classroom and real life.
It doesn't necessarily have to be this way, however. For some area high school physics students, the relationship between class work and reality was made apparent in a big way.
Roller coaster big.
May 21 was Physics Day at Darien Lake Theme Park. Teens swarmed to the amusement park, armed with calculators, accelerometers and massive worksheet packets. They had one purpose: to apply their knowledge of physics to achieve a better understanding of the park's rides and attractions.
Are both the Skycoaster and the Pirate true pendulums?
What is the potential energy from the top of the Ride of Steel?
Students came from all over New York to take measurements and test their physics skills in real life applications.
Sophomore Kyla Prindle of Maple Grove High School in Bemus Point described her experience as being fun and "pretty successful. We've been examining things like G-forces, angle of incline, time taken for revolutions. Definitely the most fun has been riding the UFO six times."
Students took advantage of the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom.
"Physics Day is really exciting. We've got a day off from school and a chance to see the fun side of physics," said Brandon Wengert of Whitesboro High School in Yorkville. "Being here makes physics a lot more fun to learn."
Fellow Whitesboro senior Chad Martin agrees.
"We've just been finding the potential and kinetic energies of roller coasters. It's just an amazing experience," he said.
"It was just a beautiful day, overall," said junior Katie Hayes of Mount Mercy Academy. "It was really interesting being here and doing physics. Going on the various rides was fun, too!"
Sound exciting? Make sure to brush up on your physics knowledge and find your Reference Tables. As the students at Physics Day have realized, physics is a big part of the world around us – all we have to do now is experience it.
Jenna Kersten is a junior at Mount Mercy Academy.?