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Physics students make roller coasters
Teens learn that science can be fun
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Staff Photo by Stephanie Cook: FCHS juniors and seniors made homemade roller coasters in their physics class to learn about the laws of motion and also have some fun.

Monday, December 9, 2013

By STEPHANIE COOK - Staff Writer

Juniors and seniors in Franklin County High School's physics classes got to experience just how fun science can be in a recent project to create miniature roller coasters.

"It's an idea that I came up with," said physics teacher Troy Kaase. "I did it when I was in high school, and it stuck with me as a fun way to learn and experience the world of physics."

Students were required to create a roller coaster at least one meter high. Each coaster had to contain at least one loop and one hill, and the object sent down the track (most students used a marble) had to stay on the track the whole way down. The object also had to roll a distance of at least five meters away from the coaster.

The coasters were made from a variety of materials, such as plastic tubes, blocks of wood, pvc pipes, paper and metal.

"All of these requirements help demonstrate the laws of motion and help the students better understand force and motion," said Kaase. "For instance, centripetal force is needed to keep the marble on the track while going through the loops, and kinetic energy is what helps keep the object in motion."

Each student had two and a half weeks to build his roller coaster. Once completed, the coasters were moved into the central gym at FCHS for a test run.

If there were any "hiccups" in the test runs, Kaase allowed the students to figure out what was causing the issues. If needed, he would offer his insight until the coasters performed optimally.

"They really got into it, and had a lot fun," Kaase said.

Jack Boone, a senior physics student and self-described hobby blacksmith welded his entire coaster from metal.

"I was really excited making this project," Boone said. "Being able to work with my hands is my favorite part of science classes."

This is Kaase's first year teaching at FCHS. With this semester's success, he plans to continue the coaster project in future classes.

 
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