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Summer Time Math

Amusement park rides can be a creative way to use math skills.

When you think of amusement parks, you probably think of thrilling roller coasters and rides, indulging foods and fun games. Amusement parks, carnivals or fairs are great activities to take part in during the summer. Many of these are local or within a short driving distance to spend a day.

The beginnings of amusement parks can actually be traced back to Europe in the 1500s. In the United States, the state and county fairs, as well as the world fair exhibitions, were the start of our now modern amusement parks. Our own Lake Compounce was first established as a bathing beach in 1846. Over time, the innovations that have been developed in the area of amusement park rides has allowed more thrills and chills for our enjoyment.

The developers of these rides and games put in much time and effort when planning out parks. Not only did they have to go about deciding what guests would like most, they had to find the right engineers to build the attractions.

Amusement Parks are full of math. Every thrilling ride needed a mathematical team to make sure that the ride could be successfully fun and safe. Six Flags has a physics day each year to honor this part of what makes their parks function. They distribute learning packets so that children can learn exactly how the rides they love really work. This packet provides you with all the information you need to calculate the theories behind each of the rides to illustrate mathematically how it works. You can download their learning packet to your computer at http://www.sixflags.com/newEngland/assets/pdf/SFNE2007_HSPhysicsBook.pdf

Parenting Pointers

  • Be aware of park hours and admission prices. These may vary depending on what parts of the park you want to take advantage of. Plan to visit during weekdays to avoid large crowds!

  • Check out AAA and our local libraries for any discount passes.

  • Check the individual websites for any specials and events that you and your family might to take part in.

  • Make sure to plan for meals.

  • Make sure your child is comfortable with the rides before boarding them. Many of these rides are meant to scare the rider.

During the school year, we may not always appreciate our math teachers and what they are teaching us, but this summer, take some time to think about the engineering genius that went into creating those park rides.

Imagine the first person who ever thought up the idea of creating steep mountainous structures out of tracks and then putting tiny passenger cars on them and making them go as fast as possible without derailing. Imagine then the person who ever had the idea to take that roller coaster and loop it around turning its passengers upside down. These people had to figure out speed and acceleration as well as how much track would be needed to obtain the right figures.

Finally, to be brief, there had to be the testing of the ride to make sure that all of the math was done right. Amusement park rides can be a great way to keep your child sharpening their math skills over the summer while having fun.

Parent's Homework

I encourage you to visit some kind of carnival, fair or park to experience the rides firsthand. Use the math workbook provided by the Six Flags educational staff to allow your children to see how different types of rides work. While the book is written on a high school level, you can still pull some basic information and vocabulary to speak to younger children as well.

Tim Chekhoyev July 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Cool article. Kids can also benefit from playing brain games like http://mathiqgames.com Enjoy)

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