Students at Bennett Elementary recently studied angles, potential energy and kinetic energy in a very unique lesson using roller coasters in Ms. Fitzgibbons classroom. The students first watched videos of real roller coasters and discussed the different angles they saw and and what they thought the measurements might be.
After angles we discussed, the next item to tackle was why the cars used a “chain” to get up the hill? The students had to learn how the car moved through the ride without an engine. Groups were then assigned and asked to research four roller coasters of their choice to determine the angle and speed.
The data collected, plus their newfound knowledge of angles, potential energy, and kinetic energy was put to the test! The goal before them was to have the fastest “roller coaster” in the class when a marble was let go. One group even decided to place dominoes at the bottom of their ride to see how many it would knock over. The students quickly learned that the steeper the angle, the faster their marble would travel. The two fastest group times were 2 seconds for the marble to travel through the course! This particular lesson used all of the 4Cs that are practiced throughout the Frenship District to educate our students: curiosity, collaboration, communication, and context.
Ms.Fitzgibbons concluded the lesson by adding, “I bet they will look at roller coasters differently when they go on vacation this summer!”