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Amusement Park Math and Science support material from NASA

Each spring, NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio supports Math and Science Days at nearby amusement parks with educational activities such as poster displays and hands-on demonstrations.

In addition, our regular exhibits, the NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) and Space Trivia Game will be there on selected days.


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Topic Index

Comments on the Physics Day products and this web page are welcome. Send them to Nancy Hall at NASA Glenn Research Center.


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Poster files to download:

Many educators have requested the PDF versions of some popular posters which have been displayed at the amusement parks. Draft versions of these posters are now available here.

Acceleration Match Game

acceleration match game

This is a game which involves matching acceleration traces measured on amusement park rides with a description of possible rides. Two versions of this popular poster are available based on measurements taken at a park near NASA Glenn in Cleveland, Ohio. [Revised: 5/17/2011]

  1. The Acceleration Match Game Poster [1 MB file] is based on rides at the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. The associated Student Worksheet can be printed for students to use in the park. The Answer Key may be obtained by educators via e-mail request from your school account.
  2. A generalized version [1 MB file] of the Cedar Point poster (which doesn't name Cedar Point in the title) and its Student Worksheet are also available.
  3. The Acceleration Match Game Poster [0.7 MB file] is based on rides at the Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The associated Student Worksheet can be printed for students to use in the park. The Answer Key may be obtained by educators via e-mail request from your school account.

NASA Drop Tower Comparison Poster

drop tower compared to amusement park rides

This poster [144 KB file] compares the height of the microgravity drop towers at NASA Glenn Research Center with the heights of popular rides at the Cedar Point amusement park.[Revised: 3/12/2008]

  • Take a look at the 2.2 Second Drop Tower in which experiments fall 24 meters. The drop tower, provides 2.2 seconds of microgravity.
  • Take a look at the Zero-Gravity Research Facility in which experiments fall 132 meters for 5 seconds of microgravity. This is NASA's premier facility for conducting ground based microgravity research and is the largest facility of its kind in the United States. It has been operational since 1966.

 

NASA Roller Coaster in the Sky Poster

KC-135 NASA's roller coaster in the sky

This poster compares roller coasters with NASA's KC-135 microgravity research aircraft. This aircraft flies successive parabolic maneuvers to give 15 seconds of microgravity conditions to researchers on-board. These microgravity intervals are interspersed with pull-outs at about 2-g's. Riders can experience similar feelings of alternating light-weight and heavy-weight on roller coaster hills.


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Microgravity Demonstrator description files to download:

We use two simple devices to demonstrate microgravity concepts on the midway during Physics Day. With these how-to guides, it is possible to construct these devices for your own use. A description of how they work is also included.

1. Leaky water bottle
2. Balloon popper


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Defying Gravity Article about Amusement Park Physics

An article and videos about NASA support of amusement park physics.


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Cleveland, Ohio-area amusement park home pages

Many other amusement parks also sponsor formal Physics Days so it is worthwhile to check with a local park. It is also possible for a school or individual educator to plan their own physics day at a local park using available guides and books on the subject.



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NOTE: Mention of commercial companies is not an endorsement by NASA nor the U.S. government.

 

 


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Last Updated: March 6, 2014