Before/Engage: (15 minutes)
Divide the students into groups. Show a video with a free fall ride. A clip from this YouTube video on the Disney Ride the Tower of Terror could be used to engage students.
Tell the students that they are engineers that are being charged with the task of creating a free fall ride like the “Tower of Terror” that will be as fast as it can be WITHOUT hurting a “passenger.” This means that the passenger will need to remain in their “seat” on the ride from beginning to end.
If you want to give them specific item specs for the ride, this would be the time to give them. (i.e. the ride must be 60cm tall and must land AT LEAST 5 cm from the floor or etc.)
Ask the students what do you know that will help you create a fast and safe ride for the passengers. Then, create a Know/Need to Know graphic organizer on the board or on chart paper. Use student answers for formative assessment. Guide them with questioning if they aren’t linking their task with their previous knowledge of force and motion concepts.
Then, ask them what they will need to know to create a model of this ride and test it with various passengers. Write their answers in the Need to Know section of the graphic organizer. After they determine what they need to know, answer their need to know questions. (i.e. what types of materials can be used, who will be the passengers, how many passengers does it need to seat, how tall does it need to be, etc.)
During/Explore: (55 minutes)
Tell the groups that they will need to create a design plan on paper for their ride with the materials and item specs on their ride. They should draw their design plan to scale as much as possible. When each group finishes their plan, they should also label the forces and the direction of the forces that are acting upon their ride. When complete, each group should call the teacher to their group to review their design plan with the design plan checklist and approve/reject it. If it is rejected, they will have to fix the items that the teacher noted. If it is approved, the group will then construct their “ride” and design a procedure for testing the ride on paper.
When they have designed the testing procedure, they should call the teacher to approve or reject their plan for testing the ride. If their testing plan is approved, they will test the ride and record their data. If their testing plan is rejected by the teacher, they should fix the items the teacher noted and call the teacher again for approval. *No group should move forward if they haven’t gotten approval on these two checkpoints.* Each student should obtain data on the maximum and minimum passenger sizes that will be able to safely ride the ride. The students will do this by testing the ride with different sizes of passengers and record the maximum and minimum size or mass of passenger that the ride will hold without the "passenger" falling out of the ride. The teacher can provide marbles, ping pong balls, tennis balls, and baseballs, etc. as potential passengers to be tested. If the instructor wishes to save time, the students can complete their ride with only one size of passenger.
After groups have tested their designs, the students should explain their ride to the class and demonstrate their ride. They should explain their design and how they determined the maximum and minimum passenger size. Each group will demonstrate their ride three times. Each group will use stopwatches to obtain the time that it takes the ride to complete. The teacher will guide the class through taking the average time it takes each group’s ride to complete. Then, the groups will take that average to graph and calculate the speed of each group’s ride. Finally, each group will determine the fastest and safest ride in the class.
*A prize may be given to the group who created the safest and fastest ride.*