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Innovative Uses

Studying Acceleration at Amusement Parks

Richard DeLombard of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has come up with a unique way to get students to analyze acceleration graphs from amusement park rides.

Over the past six years, he has had a booth during Physics Day events at a couple of amusement parks. In the booth, he displays a poster that challenges students and teachers to match the graphs of the 3-axis acceleration data to various rides. The poster contains eight graphs that show the three independent axes and the scalar sum of the accelerations, along with a description of the eight rides. The activity is very challenging.

You might want to check out this NASA website, which includes an educator guide, a microgravity demonstrator, articles, and links to other websites: http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/outreach/appd/appd_resources.html

The Ocean Motion is a pendulum ride with a large boat, holding about 50 riders, that is suspended below its horizontal axis. Motors push the boat back and forth until it is swinging at about 90 degrees end-to-end.

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