Students learn about the science behind the recreational activity of snow tubing.
Where can you go to take a magic carpet up a snow covered hill, then slide down the hill while sitting on donuts and biscuits, sometimes with dimples between you and the snow? The answer is: a snow tubing course. The magic carpet is the conveyor belt that carries you and your tube to the top of the slope. The tubes themselves, are called donuts or biscuits. Some of the tubes have dimpled centers to keep the tuber from dragging on the snow. In addition to its eccentric terminology, snow tubing can provide an opportunity for tubers to practice their skills in science.
BEFORE YOU GO• Review relevant vocabulary and key terms: velocity, mass, gravity, friction, kinetic energy, potential energy.
• Call ahead to the resort to ask about any maps and specifications of the slopes that can be provided and reviewed with the class prior to the trip.
WHAT TO WONDERQuestions to ask staff: What is the height of the hill/slope? What is the weight of the tube? What is the weight of the tuber?
Describe the slope; the tubes.
Observe what tubers are going the fastest? The farthest?
Opinion: Unlike skiing and snowboarding, it is not common for snow tubers to take lessons for tubing. Should lessons be required? Encouraged? Available? Why or why not?
Compare snow tubing to sledding.
Challenge: Using the following formulas, determine the velocity of your tube. Also determine the potential and kinetic energy of your tube. (v=d/t; PE=m x g x h; KE=1/2mv²)
Discuss the role that friction plays in snow tubing.
Project: Create your own snow tube by altering an existing snow tube to make it faster.
Research how the type of snow (newly fallen, icy, powdery) affects the speed of a snow tube.
Social Impact: Many fatal accidents have occurred when people attempt to snow tube at home by towing a tube on a rope from a car or truck. Create an advertisement for a snow tube resort explaining the benefits of snow tubing at a resort rather than at home.