Junior Summer Scholars Enjoy Amusement Park Physics

Moorestown Friends School concluded its third year of the Summer Scholars program on Friday, August 7.

One Junior Scholars class, Amusement Park Physics for Grades 1-3, ended their week of hands-on physics activities by building roller coasters fit for marbles. Equipped with elementary knowledge of concepts such as gravity, force, and energy, the students worked in groups to bring their blueprint designs to life inside Hartman Hall.

Teacher Molly Cope and her two interns, Margaux Vellucci ’16 and Caroline Paw ’17, organized a jam-packed week of experiments and lessons for their 18 students to demonstrate how much science is incorporated into many facets of an amusement park.

Food is a favorite aspect of a day out at a carnival, so the students were thrilled to make their own homemade ice cream and soft pretzels. To make their own frozen desserts, the class rolled around their ice cream mixture in balls outside. The students needed to exert and transfer their energy in order to generate their homemade ice cream.      

In the middle of the week, the class found itself outside again to host its own “Midway Games.” The students learned a few behind-the-scenes tricks that many amusement parks employ to tweak the boardwalk games to their advantage. One example the class discussed was the balloon dart game, where players aim to pop a balloon for a prize.

“We demonstrated how it’s harder to pop balloons when they’re not fully blown. It’s much easier to pop a balloon when it is completely full,” said third-year Summer Scholars intern Margaux. “We compared our working models with pictures at a carnival and saw that carnival balloons are not fully inflated.”

Molly Cope wrapped up the week-long physics immersion with the students by recapping the lessons learned through their interactive projects, which ranged from understanding push and pull mechanisms to the principles of inertia and friction and how they affected the course of the students’ marbles on their roller coasters.

Caroline enjoyed her experience as a first-year intern. She reflected: “Working with kids is so fun. They’re just so excited about everything. With Summer Scholars, the classes are fun and offer more hands-on opportunities, but the kids are still learning. It keeps your brain moving in the summer.”


View more photos from the Amusement Park Physics class.