Monday, November 29, 2010

Roller Coaster Game as Learning Tool in Physics

In my physics classes, when we study work, energy and energy conversions, I relate it to amusement park rides such as roller coasters. The students can all relate to these things and they are great examples of work being done to give an object (the roller coaster) potential energy which then gets converted to kinetic energy and so one. We are also able to bring in forces, friction, and other topics. The students love it, it keeps their interest, and they learn!

One activity I had them complete right before the Thanksgiving break is to play an online game. Yes, I said it, a game. The game is Roller Coaster Creator. I found the site by doing a Google search and played it myself first. It is a lot of fun, but I wasn't sure how educational it was. So, I tried it out on my students. They loved it. They all tried to get the highest scores and the best designs. But, more importantly was the conversations they were having while using it. They were talking like physicists and engineers. "We have to increase this hill so there is more potential energy". "There is too much friction." "That loop will create too much g-force for the passengers." "In order to have the car jump that gap, we need a different angle and more velocity."

The conversations were great! I was so happy to see them learning and applying the concepts that they had learned while having fun!!

Now, I just have to keep this fun level going and get some more great activities for them.

Share your educational games (or games you've used in education) with us.


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