What is Amusement Park Physics?

Amusement Park Physics is an educational approach to teaching fundamental physics concepts using an amusement park as a laboratory. Many variations of such activities have been conducted across the country over the last three decades.

Screamer RideThe USU Physics Day at Lagoon is the first such activity in the Intermountain Region. Physics Day at Lagoon provides a valuable educational experience for the high school and middle school students; at the same time it is a lot of fun and provides incentive for students to develop an interest in science. Amusement parks provide nearly unlimited, illustrative and simple examples of many key physics concepts for experiments, measurements, and problem solving.

The activities at Physics Day 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 about the traditional, but very dry, example of carts on an inclined plane. Physics Day provides a chance for students to apply classroom concepts to real world situations and, like most field trips and “hands-on” learning experiences, its benefits stick with students longer than traditional lessons.

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