FARMINGTON—Robots, eggs and G-force. Students discovered that Lagoon Amusement Park was much more than just a fun place to get a thrill on a roller coaster as they experienced Utah State University Physics Day May 12.
“They’re measuring the acceleration (G-force) on Colossus,” said Brian LeStarge from Churchill Junior High. “We feel twice as heavy while we’re on the ride. They have built these devices to compare how gravity accelerates downward weight on a coaster. During a tight turn it goes much higher so you feel heavier.”
Other kids were dropping eggs in bags or with parachutes from the Sky Coaster hoping their egg would hit a large target on the ground without breaking.
In another area, fifth and sixth graders were testing their skills with robots they built and programmed to navigate a large maze or battle another robot in a Sumo competition.
“It’s really fun,” said Colton Kemper a fifth-grader at Cook Elementary in Syracuse. “They taught us beginning programming and then it gets pretty easy. I’m definitely going to do Sumo next year.”
Students built the robots using Lego Mindstorms kits during after school programs where teachers and local engineers mentor the kids.
“It’s structured around fifth and sixth grade,” said Will Gardner, coordinator for Utah Elementary Robotics that runs the program. “We started with three schools and it’s grown to 23. They build and program the robots themselves. We’ve had college students complain that they’re doing the same things as a fifth grader. It’s a lot of work, but when they walk out of Lagoon with smiles it’s worth it.”