8th graders build their own roller-coaster

(via BoingBoing)

This is just really cool. I want to build my own roller-coaster. I’m sure my kids would like that too. And my wife would just roll her eyes if I suggested doing it. The truth is, I lack the space to build a roller-coaster, and I doubt the neighborhood association would approve it anyway. But some day, maybe I’ll find the time, money, knowledge, and whatever else to do it. In the meantime, I just have to be envious of the work these students have completed.

Painted mostly black and decorated with a solar system theme – the planets, the sun, Earth’s moon, Orion’s Nebula, the asteroid belt and a black hole – the roller coaster includes three lifts and drops, an enormous figure eight and a 360-degree loop. The track is 400 feet long, and students estimate that the car will reach a top speed of 35 mph coming down the final and tallest drop.

“It goes so fast you would swear it would fall off,” said Chris Rubio, a history teacher.

And because articles on the linked site are not guaranteed to be available long term, the complete article is pasted below the break:

[tags]Roller coaster, DIY[/tags]


Living their lives on the fast track
Young engineers use teamwork, mathematics

By Esther Chou Staff Writer

COVINA – Stretching out to the corners of the gymnasium, the indoor roller coaster at Royal Oak Intermediate School appears gargantuan compared to its creators.Twenty-four feet tall at its highest point and occupying 10,000 square feet, the fully-functional ride towers over the 135 eighth-graders who are its designers, builders and decorators. Students and four teachers have spent thousands of hours measuring, sawing, constructing, painting and decorating the wooden structure over the last three weeks.

They will launch a small, unmanned car on the track at 7 p.m. today.

“The nervous part is waiting for it to work,” said Jacob Jimenez, 14. “The kind-of not-nervous part is \ it’s ours. No matter what

happens, it’s still ours. It has to work.”

The students are part of the Odyssey Program, a three-year program that emphasizes intellectual development, emotional and moral education and collaborative, hands-on activities.

Last year, students built a giant Rube Goldberg machine, and in the previous year, they dug for archeological artifacts in a 60-foot ditch. Referred to as “learners,” students are paired with the same four teachers throughout their years at Royal Oak.

Painted mostly black and decorated with a solar system theme – the planets, the sun, Earth’s moon, Orion’s Nebula, the asteroid belt and a black hole – the roller coaster includes three lifts and drops, an enormous figure eight and a 360-degree loop. The track is 400 feet long, and students estimate that the car will reach a top speed of 35 mph coming down the final and tallest drop.

“It goes so fast you would swear it would fall off,” said Chris Rubio, a history teacher.

Equipped with eight skateboard wheels, the car journeys through space, starting at the first planet, Mercury. The ride’s largest spiral represents Jupiter because it’s the largest planet, followed by the enormous figure eight that represents the rings of Saturn. At the end of the ride, the 360-degree loop mimics the sun.

This is Royal Oak’s third and largest roller coaster; it’s two feet taller and much larger than the last one.

“Our kids wanted to do something bigger,” Rubio said. “We literally had to stop because the back light was in the way. The only thing that stopped this being bigger was the size of the gym.”

The ride cost $5,000 to build. Students raised money by selling entertainment books and T-shirts, and businesses and individuals donated money and materials.

Divided into groups of nine, students each have a specific job: project manager, building foreman, builder, decorator, creative writer, researcher and math technician.

“We pretty much have to work as a team or it’s not going to work,” Jimenez said.

Of all the skills used in constructing the ride, such as physical science and math, 14-year-old McKenna Gooden said the most important is to “work with peers” and “connect with friends and get it done.”

“It’s pretty amazing how us kids – 14-, 15-year-olds – can build a 400-foot roller coaster,” she said.

esther.chou@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2513

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