• Last modified 3578 days ago (Nov. 4, 2009)


Roller coasters spark student interest

Staff writer

Building roller coasters Monday morning gave Extended Learning Program students from Marion and Butler counties a chance to have fun with science and engineering.

“I like how it includes all the physics, and it makes it fun instead of in a classroom,” Bluestem sixth-grader Mandi Becker said.

About 20 students in fourth through eighth grades met in Hillsboro Middle School gym for the program, sponsored by Science and Engineering Education Development for Students (SEEDS), part of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University.

SEEDS Coordinator Ivy Lanning said the program gives students a chance to explore science, math, and physics while making the subjects fun and approachable.

“The goal is to promote learning disguised as fun,” she said.

If the participants begin to see science and engineering as a possible hobby, the program has done its job, Lanning said.

In the morning, students designed and built tracks like roller coasters for marbles. Some of the tracks included spiral turns, loops, and jumps.

In the afternoon they built “Rube Goldberg” machines — automating a fairly simple task with a much more complicated machine. Students from all five school districts in Marion County participated in the event.

Hillsboro sixth-grader Abi Hurst was reluctant at first. She said she didn’t think playing with building blocks was a good fit for middle school students.

After working with her group on a roller coaster for a while, she changed her mind.

“Now I want it for Christmas,” she said.

Last modified Nov. 4, 2009