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Amusement Park Rides Teach Physics
Posted 04/24/2014 01:00PM

Summer is just weeks away and while many students are probably imagining the great adventures they will soon have on the thrilling rides of an amusement park, Barnesville’s eighth graders are pondering, and investigating, the physics of how these rides work. 

For their final science project at Barnesville, the eighth graders were assigned to construct a working amusement park, on a much smaller scale than an actual park, more to the size of gummy bears. The park was required to include a roller coaster, a free fall ride and a ride that includes a spinning action. Each ride had to be a working scale model of an actual existing ride.

The students were divided into four teams. Each team created a different ride and wrote a one-page paper explaining the physics behind the ride. 

“This assignment is all about inquiry, physics and problem solving,” explained Lynda Forman, middle school science teacher.

The students constructed the rides using materials such as PVC pipe, cardboard, duct tape, wire and string, Popsicle sticks, cardboard, plastic garden bed liners, magnets, track from a car racing toy, coffee stirrers, tooth picks, felt and lots of glue. The spinning ride even incorporated a hand drill to create the movement.

This year’s rides included:

  • The Comet – a roller coaster at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania
  • Scream Zone – a free fall ride at King’s Dominion in Virginia
  • Wind Seeker – a spinning swing ride at Cedar Point in Ohio
  • Tidal Force – a water ride at Hershey Park

The park was set up for parents, teachers and students to visit and provided the eighth graders with an opportunity to demonstrate their designs and explain how the came up with their rides. Following the demonstrations, the students participated in a class discussion about what worked, what didn’t and what they could do differently to ensure greater success.

The Amusement Park Ride project is an eighth grade Signature Curriculum Event.

Almost no gummy bears were harmed in the making of these rides.

An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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