Amusement Park Physics Curriculum Contest

Teachers — There is a Physics Day contest JUST FOR YOU!

Create an Amusement Park Physics lesson plan based on concepts taught at Physics Day.

  • All entries will receive a prize!!
  • Contest details and a suggested format for your entry are shown below.
  • Registration forms are available on-line and must be turned in at Davis Pavilion by 11:00 a.m. on Physics Day.
  • Entries for the Curriculum Contest can be used to fullfill requirements for the Professional Development program.

A Challenge to Prepare for Lagoon:

There is an Apparatus Competition put on by the American Association of Physics Teachers that can be done in conjunction with this Curriculum Contest. More information can be found here.


The goal of the contest is to create curriculum material on Amusement Park Physics for use in your schools. Material developed for the contest can include lessons for use in the classroom either before or after Physics Day or activities and contests for completion at Lagoon on Physics Day.

These activities provide excellent motivation for classroom discussions, lessons, problems and experiments on topics such as rotational mechanics, centrifugal force, conservation of energy, design of measurement devices, and data collection and error analysis techniques. For instance, it is much easier to get students excited to think about the physics of roller coasters than the traditional, dry example of carts on inclined planes.

Contest Rules

  1. The contest is open to all high school and middle school teachers in the Intermountain Region. Entries will be accepted from individuals or groups.
  2. The curriculum material will be limited to a maximum of two pages of teacher handouts and a two-page student worksheet. An answer sheet should also be submitted if appropriate. Contestants may also prepare a poster to be displayed at the Davis Pavilion during Physics Day.
  3. Two complete copies of contest entry material must be submitted at the registration desk before general registration closes at 11:00 on Physics Day.
  4. Selection will be based on the material's educational value, physics content, and other sponsors of Physics Day.
  5. This material will be compiled and made available to other high school and middle school teachers in conjunction with future Physics Days at Lagoon.
  6. Refer to the Curriculum Material Request Form to obtain copies of material developed by previous contest winners.

Your Entry Should Have:

  • A Summary
    • Topic: Gravity
    • Question to be answered: Which way is up?
    • Activity: Make paper wads. Release them. See which way they go.
    • Conclusion: "Up" is opposite gravity
    • Evaluation: Review student worksheets at the end of class
    • Extension: How could you find "up" in outer space?
  • A Teacher Worksheet
    • Materials needed: Scraps of paper
    • Preparation: Gather scraps. Copy student handouts.
    • Concepts Emphasized:
      1. We think of up as opposite the direction of gravity.
      2. Gravity always points toward the center of the earth.
  • A Student Handout
    1. Make 10 paper wads. Drop them from different places in the room. Draw arrows on a picture of the room showing which way they went.
    2. If students did the same experiment all around the world, which way would the arrows point? Draw them on a globe.
    3. Is "up" the same direction for everyone in the world?
    4. Clean up your paper wads!!

Sponsored by:

Utah State University
College of Science

  • Updated 2/28/2014 - Utah State University Physics Department
  • webmaster