Physics sets stage for terrifying rollercoaster

Scholars in Craig Conger's physics class spent the last week putting their knowledge of motion to the test by designing a variety of roller coasters.
One team of scholars, however, went above and beyond the project's requirements, according to Conger.
Michael Grady and Marcus Strohmeyer designed a roller coaster called the Fast Viper and then went beyond the assignment's goal of designing it on paper and actually built a working model of their dream rollercoaster.
"I was pretty stoked to see Micheal and Marcus follow through," said Conger, noting that it was Strohmeyer's idea to construct a working model. "It is really cool from a teacher standpoint to see a student that really gets interested and takes it above and beyond what you have even asked them to do."
"I stayed up night to day working on it at home," said Strohmeyer. "I did not really get any sleep because I wanted to get it done as soon as possible."
He said the coaster's design was based on making a ride that was dedicated to a snake.
"We had all the twists and turns like what snakes can do," said Strohmeyer. "My dad helped me with some of it. We got a board and I spray painted it black and then I built the whole design out of Kinect and built the sign and then painted water around it so it looks like real water. It is motorized so you can actually watch it go through the whole track."
Strohmeyer, who loves roller coasters, said he wanted to build a coaster that would be truly scary. 
"I am pretty sure you would hear the screams from it," he said. When I first looked at it and was trying it out I almost screamed.  It is not a roller coaster for kids. It is something that if you want to get scared a little it is a ride you want to go on."
Conger said that as fun as the project was, it also served an important role in helping his scholars understand potential and kinetic energy.
"We wanted to kind of develop that knowledge further by finding applications that really interested scholars," said Conger. "A lot fo them really like Six Flags so we decided to come up with roller coaster designs that they could design themselves and then they could calculate kinetic and potential energy based on how high the roller coaster was off the ground and how fast they had the rollercoaster going.  I really just kind of turned them loose with it as far as the design aspect goes.
Conger said he started the weeklong project with some videos on rollercoaster design and then helped with some brainstorming before letting them go to work in teams on the design.
"I had told them that if I really liked the designs and they were capable of being built that we might try to build it in class," said Conger.
That suggestion was all Strohmeyer needed to take the extra step.
"I have been wanting to do architectural design and thought this would be a good way to boost what I can learn," he said. "We drew it out and then I said, you know I could try to build this. I faced time my partner while I was working on it and he helped me out.
"We had to make sure it was safe," he added. "Some turns we had trouble with because of how big and fast they went down. It was hard work, but it was also really fun."