Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weird Science Fair

We had the opportunity to participate in Lighthouse Learning Christian Homeschool Co-op's Science Fair. (This is a Co-op we joined about two years ago. We always have fun with these homeschool friends!)
First we had to pick a scientist. Pie Pie picked a Roller Coaster Designer. (I whispered it in her ear first!) She loves Roller Coasters so I thought this would be a great topic to learn about. She agreed with me so the next time we went to the library I ordered lots of books and movies. Then we went to the craft store to get a Roller Coaster model. We were on our way!
I already showed a picture in this post of the progress Pie Pie was making on her model so here is a finished picture!

It was very interesting learning all about Roller Coasters. Here are some of the questions we answered while we were learning.

Where did Roller Coasters start?
In Russia in the 1400's or 1500's as ice sledding. They would sled down 70-foot hills that were very steep and covered with ice.
When did the first wheeled Roller Coaster open? 
In Paris in 1804. It was named the Russian Mountains after the country where the sport had originated.
When did Roller Coasters come to North America?
In the 1870's on paper in the form of blueprints. The first one built was the Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway at Coney Island in 1884.

When did Roller Coasters really get popular in North America?
In the 1920's about 1,500 coasters were built.
When and why did their popularity decline for awhile?
In the 1930's and 1940's due to the Great Depression and World War II. They needed the supplies for the war and people did not have money for fun rides. Over 1,000 coasters were torn down in this time period.
When did they gain popularity again?
Walt Disney opened up the first steel coaster in 1955. It was called the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
How many types of wheels does a modern coaster have?
They have 3 wheels. The road wheel, upstop wheel, and guide wheel. They are all important for safety to keep the car on the track.
Why does the first hill have to be the highest?
So the coaster will have enough energy to make it through the whole ride.
What do designers think about when designing a coaster?
They think about engineering, physics, safety and creating an unforgettable experience.
How many types of coasters are there?
The classic, racer, figure 8, inverted, out and back, suspended, shuttle loop, stand-up, trackless, enclosed, twister and launch. 

Some of the resources we used were:
the Internet
Roller Coasters by A.R. Schaefer
Roller Coasters or I Had So Much Fun, I almost Puked by Nick Cook
Popular Mechanics for Kids Rip-Roaring Roller Coasters and All Access to Fun DVD
The Science of Disney Imagineering:Gravity DVD

The night of the Science Fair we had a lot of fun sharing with our friends what we had learned. We also enjoyed learning from the other projects!
I'm looking forward to our next Family Night! Get out your measuring spoons,mixers, and don't forget the chocolate! We're going to be baking up a storm for Top Chef! You will not want to miss that!

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