fie, 2011 Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. S3D–1-S3D-6


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University outreach in STEM education through a Roller Coaster Science and Engineering Camp

by David P. Wick, Michael W. Ramsdell, Kathleen Fowler, Peter Turner, and Patrick D. Schalk

We describe the structure, implementation, and outcomes of a Roller Coaster Science and Engineering Camp for students in grades 7 -- 12. The framework for the camp has been developed over several years with the goal of providing a unique experience in STEM education using the theme of roller coaster science and engineering. Students form simulated "roller coaster design companies," whose goal is to design a working roller coaster. To assist with the design process, we have developed a Roller Coaster Card Game that incorporates a series of track segments depicting starting hills, vertical loops, corkscrews, cobra rolls, horseshoe turns, and brake segments which can be assembled to initiate the design process. Based on scientific analysis, students exchange cards from the original design with cards depicting similar segments and corrected dimensions. Only certain card combinations result in a working model. The final design is then programmed into a commercial roller coaster software package, where it can be simulated from a first-person rider perspective. We discuss the impact of the camp on student involvement in other research projects and enrichment opportunities. While the specific impact of any single intervention is difficult to measure, we offer some assessment of student participant performance in math/science. READ FULL ARTICLE (login required) »

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