Imperial shows off its coasters
By Breanna Flores
La Habra Journal
Roller coasters and other engineering marvels filled the Multipurpose Room at Imperial Middle School Friday morning as the eighth grade physical science class displayed their original creations at the second Roller Coaster Showcase.
Professional engineers were invited to evaluate the more than 44 unique architectural designs. Evaluations were based on a two-minute informative presentation and on the actual roller coaster. The presentation, or “sales pitch,” needed to include key concepts such as kinetic energy, negative acceleration and Newton’s first law of motion.
Roller coasters were graded on appearance, the number of loops, creativity and whether or not the group stayed within the $25 assigned budget.
Students were given creative freedom to use a variety of materials to build their roller coaster. Electrical tape and electronic or motorized parts were the only items that were prohibited.
Jennifer Herrera, Kimberly Benitez, Vanessa Ortiz and Bryana Suarez designed “Fear Factor,” a roller coaster inspired by phobias. Toilet paper rolls and wooden dowels were secured with glue to create their frightful amusement park ride.
“I think [this project] taught us teamwork because throughout this whole thing we got mad at each other a lot,” Herrera said.
Disagreements over themes, designs and materials were common among most groups.
“[Project-Based Learning] is a more hands-on approach. It’s a problem/solution type of approach, and more importantly, it involves all of the Four Cs. Not only are they just showing their roller coasters, but they have to actually describe all of the physics concepts that are involved in that,” Csilla Koppany, 8th grade physical science teacher, said.
Koppany also said that most of the items used to build the roller coasters were items that could be found in a trash can, like toilet paper rolls and toothpicks.
Alexis Arrieta, the designated spokesperson for “Reality’s Worst Nightmare,” said that her group opted for a scary theme that would trigger a variety of fears.
David Rico and Chris Chang of “Atlas” said that their group had difficulty communicating and constantly changed their ideas about how the roller coaster should be structured.
“We created a hanging one, 3-feet tall, and we actually tried to make it out of trading cards. It didn’t work well. We knew we were running out of time, so then we made one out of wire. That didn’t work, so we ended up with this,” Rico said.
Multiple redesigns and last minute changes were not uncommon for groups.
“A lot of the time what they have in their head, might be very, very different once they start to build. That’s where the engineering process comes into play. You see a tremendous amount of frustration, but what’s great about it, is they don’t give up. They go back and redesign.” Koppany said.
Assistant Principal Michele Robinson attended the showcase this year for the first time. She said that students were learning science through this creative project and were challenged to use their critical thinking skills.
Professional engineers and parents were given the opportunity to visit the showcase first. Students who did not participate in the showcase were invited to visit the Multipurpose Room later in the day.
With the second event such a success, Koppany said that the Roller Coaster Showcase will be an annual event for Imperial Middle School students for years to come.