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.