On March 8 and 15, 2018, Knott’s Berry Farm hosted the 3rd Annual Physics Day for Junior High and High School Students. Students from all over Southern California, including Mexico, entered the build-your-own roller competition with highly intricate small-scale model roller coasters.
The students used a variety materials and marbles to build their roller coasters and then analyzed them using physics principles. The students had to examine conversions between kinetic and potential energy and frictional effects to design their custom coasters. Some of the teams accomplished this task, while others came very close.
During the design of their model roller coasters, students encountered many of the same issues that real-world roller coaster engineers address. In order to build working roller coasters, students had to understand the fundamental laws of physics.
Knott’s asked local retired physics professors to judge the students’ entries based on acceleration and the number of loops in their roller coaster. Another group of judges from the American Coaster Enthusiasts organization judged the students’ entries on creativity.
Then they awarded first, second and third place in the Most Creative, Most Exciting to Ride and Overall Best Roller Coaster categories.
My favorite entry was Gogo’s Jungle Rumble, which won first place for Most Exciting to Ride. Look at how intricate the design was! They used animal characters, palm trees and a variety of other jungle décor to decorate their coaster.
Another two-member team won the Best Overall Award for the roller coaster with the most loops and biggest drop, while a four-member team won first place for the Most Creative roller coaster.
In addition to the roller coaster competition, there are several other educational activities for students to participate in throughout the day.
They may choose from a Paper Tower Building competition, Fermi questions (available on High School Day only), Conversion Conundrum (available on Jr. High Day only), a Paper Airplane Launch, Rubber Band-Powered Vehicles, and a park-wide Scavenger Hunt.
To learn more about Knott’s Berry Farm Physics Day and register your students for the 2019 competition, visit https://www.knotts.com/explore/groups/student-and-youth/adventures-in-education
Happy Field Tripping!