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The Wonderful World of Roller Coasters

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It is that time of the school year again where Juniors and Seniors who take Pre-Calculus and Pre-Calculus Honors, create their very own roller coasters. This is popularly known as Hawthorne High School’s Roller Coaster project. Mrs. Pasquale and Mr. McMann have been running this assignment for many years now. The Clarion interviewed these two very intelligent teachers to learn more about this project and too see how they feel about it.

Now the freshmen and some other students and teachers may be wondering “What is the roller coaster project?”. The roller coaster project started as an activity to do at the end of the Trigonometric unit in Pre-Calculus.

11 years ago Mrs. Pasquale decided to put the Physics and Math together along with Mr. McMann 5 years later to create this project. Most students don’t see how this project can connect with Math but Mrs. Pasquale explained how she came up with the idea. She noticed when you look at roller coasters most have structures that have a triangular shape to them. The triangular shape connects back to the Trigonometry unit in Pre-Calculus.

Over the years the projects have become a huge phenomenon. The students have to build the coasters from scratch, along with many difficult elements coming into play. Every year a group of students come up with new elements to add to the projects. For example, a lift and lights in the tubing.

Now, while this is a lot of work for the students, they are not alone. Mr. McMann and Mrs. Pasquale take the time to go over to the students’ houses to see what they might need help with. Sometimes when the students don’t have much to their project or are severely struggling with some aspects of it, they could be there until late at night. Last year, Mrs. Pasquale was so busy, Mr. McMann had to go by himself to the houses. This could be frustrating, however, it helps the students greatly.

Because this project has been running for so many years, the teachers are bound to have some favorites that they have seen. Mrs. Pasquale’s favorite projects were ‘Snake Pit’, which was one of the first projects ever and she also really enjoyed ‘Candy Land’, which a group did last year. Mr. McMann’s favorite was ‘Indiana Jones’. It worked so well that they ended up keeping the roller coaster for 4 years. Every time they put a marble on it, it would work every single time.

This project isn’t just for students to raise their GPA. Mrs. Pasquale and Mr. McMann believe that the project helps the students in many ways. Many colleges and universities ask about the roller coaster project to students that are applying. For students who go into engineering it benefits them the most. Another benefit to the project is that there are different roles that are assigned. The projects forces students to work with people they may or may not like, each one having a different job in the process. The roles the students take on are the foreman who is the main person in charge, the architect, the accountant who is in charge of the money provided by the school and then engineers and technicians.

While helping the students and seeing all the different roller coasters may be fun for Mrs. Pasquale and Mr. McMann, the Clarion was eager to know what kind of coaster they would make. Mrs. Pasquale said her theme would have to be a fantasy. It would definitely have something involving dragons!!! She would add a big drop and have immense scenery. Mr. McMann said his theme would be without a doubt ‘Star Wars’.

Although this project seems difficult and frustrating, the idea that you and your group worked together to build a working contraption could be very satisfying. So whether you are currently building, or are waiting for your year to come to build one, be ready for June 6, or June 7, to see all of the amazing roller coasters in action.

 

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The Wonderful World of Roller Coasters