Which horses on a carousel move the fastest: the ones on the inside or the ones on the outside? Does a roller coaster have an engine? How does the car stay on the track when it goes upside down around a loop? Which passenger travels the farthest on the pirate ship ride - one seated in the center or one seated on the end? Amusement park rides can give a fun glimpse into the physics needed to make them work. You'll find physics can be pretty amusing!
BEFORE YOU GO
- Check the park’s website or call ahead to see if they provide student worksheets or activities. Many parks offer downloadable guides for various subjects and ages.
- Look on the map or ask about shows, parades, or other events.
- Speak with a group sales person and see if they have materials or if they can arrange to have someone meet your students concerning the science of the rides.
WHAT TO WONDER
Ask: How does each ride work? Which horses on a carousel are moving the fastest: the ones on the inside or the ones on the outside? Does a roller coaster have an engine? How much water do water rides use?
Describe the sensations you feel on each ride. What do you think causes them?
Observe: What safety precautions do you see on each ride? Why are these required? What rules does the park have? Why are these rules necessary?
Opinion: Do you think the rides are frightening or fun? Which are your favorite rides?
Compare and contrast two rides. What material are they made from, how do they operate, how many people can ride?
Challenge students to practice navigation skills by reading the map and completing this amusement park scavenger hunt.
Discuss: Did the park have a theme? Where did you see examples of the theme? What theme would you use when creating a park? Why do people enjoy amusement parks?
Project: Students design their own amusement park and draw a map of rides and sites.
Research how different rides work
Social Impact: Research the history of a ride or amusement park. Track how it has changed through the years.