Science on a Roll!
Seventh Graders Learn the Ups and Downs of Natural Forces
“How do different forces interact to give a roller coaster enough energy to move without an engine?” This was the driving question that motivated the Seventh graders in Ms. Termotto’s and Mrs. Loscalzo’s science classes.
The students did their research. They explored the laws that govern forces, transfers of energy, speed, and acceleration. They acquired a good grasp of the principles through their multiple investigations, but not until they put principles into practice—building their own roller coasters—did they have their eureka moments.
When Dr. Castoro had shared with Ms.Termotto and Mrs. Loscalzo that his own children loved the experience of building roller coasters, Ms.Termotto and Mrs. Loscalzo seized the idea and figured out how to make it work for their classes. The prospect thrilled them and their students.
“We always want to get kids out of their seats and be hands on,” said Ms. Termotto.
“Absolutely!” agreed Mrs. Loscalzo. “Getting the students to make connections with their learning to real-life situations in a fun way is our goal!”
Applying their newly acquired understanding of natural forces, the students became engineers as they created designs and collected data regarding what worked and why. During the week-long process they readjusted their calculations to improve their outcomes in anticipation of Friday’s Race Day, the culmination of their brainwork and handiwork.
Thanks to the excitement the assignment created all week, the Seventh Graders enjoyed a roller-coaster of a learning experience they will not soon forget.