Thursday, April 27, 2000

Physics test a beast, but that's the beauty

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

Roller coaster builders set up their model thriller machines Wednesday at Paramount's Kings Island.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — About 40 Mason High School students have a new appreciation for the intricacies of roller coasters.

        They've just finished designing and building miniature coasters as the final project for a physics course. All eight coasters are on display inside the main entrance of Paramount's Kings Island.

        “I feel more confident now riding coasters,” said senior Abby Popplewell of Mason. “I know more about what's going on. It's not as complicated as I thought and they (Kings Island) have more safety features.”

        Each group of five or six students had a $60 budget. Their roller coaster could have a base no longer than 4 feet and no wider than the classroom doorway. The roller coasters had to have a motorized first hill, a second hill at least half the height of the first and at least one loop. A marble serves as a car.

        Senior Joe Harbison's group chose the name “Under Construction” for its black coaster decorated with yellow caution tape.

        “We didn't think we'd finish in time,” Joe said. “We had to redo it four times. The marble kept flying off the track and the loop didn't work.”

        Catie Young said her group tried to incorporate something from each of the main roller coasters at Kings Island.

        “We had a bunny hill like King Cobra but we had to modify it because (the marble) was slowing down too much,” said Ms. Young, 18, of Deerfield Township.

        Finally, the students stuck their wires into 50 feet of vinyl tubing — using Dial soap as a lubricant — to make their track.

        The students had almost five weeks to finish their projects. Once completed, they had to time the marble as it looped through the coaster and then do several calculations involving different forms of energy and other principles of physics.

        “Every concept we studied we related to roller coasters, gearing up for this project,” said physics teacher Dee Dee Morrison.


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