Maybe you’re a roller coaster aficionado or you simply relish all the sights, sounds, smells and snacks associated with amusement parks near home and far away. Regardless of the reasons you love these fun centers, they are all ripe with possible lessons for your eager students this fall.
Add a Little Action to Your Lesson Plans This Fall When You Use Your Amusement Park Visits and Observations as Inspiration
Movement is all around when you visit an amusement park. Whether you are walking from one ride to the next, standing in line, boarding or exiting the ride, you are in nearly constant motion. At the very least, your visit to a amusement park is chock full of the need for focus and attention. You probably won’t have much probably getting and keeping your students’ attention this fall when you introduce your amusement park lesson plans.
The science and math lessons associated with amusement park rides may astound your students and are the perfect way for you to meet your Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) lesson requirements in a thrilling way. These lessons give you the chance to engage students who are fairly indifferent to these subjects. There is something enthralling about the science behind gravity-defying machines that require everyone to suspend disbelief, as well as everything else, and accept the science and mathematics of the ride, trusting that the reliance on these disciplines will get them back to their starting point in one piece. With the right approach, prepare to hold your classroom’s rapt attention for these lessons.
Elementary School. Ask students to count the number of roller coasters versus other rides in the park. Further, ask them to pick out rides that defy gravity, such as roller coasters that have loops that go upside-down, compared to static rides that feature either a pendulum movement or a rotating swing motion.
Middle School. You can dig deeper into more advanced science and mathematics with this range of grade levels. Acceleration, Newton’s First Law of Motion and Gravitational Force are right there, prime for their own lessons inspired by roller coasters and other rides with unique physics-based motions. Introduce your students to these advanced mathematical and scientific concepts that abound in the amusement park, based on your shared video recordings of rides from various angles and positions, as well as your thoughts — some of which might include observations and musings about notable physical effects people experience, such as their hair falling downward during a loop or the need to brace themselves at the peak of a pendulum swing —to get the discussion started.
High School. Foster your future physicists’ interest with lessons from the amusement park. Do an in-depth exploration of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion by dissecting their favorite roller coaster. Ask students to explore more about various scientific laws and perform experiments so they can apply them to each ride, discussion various scientific properties and mathematical formulas involved. A bonus lesson might include working with students to understand what it takes to provide electrical power to an amusement park and the individual rides.
While the history of amusement parks and carnivals goes back to the Middle Ages, the modern parks that we know and love really started to take shape in the 19th century. Known at the time as “trolley parks” and “pleasure gardens,” they set the template for a Western tradition — even somewhat akin to the idea of a ritual or pilgrimage for many families taking road trips together — that is still going strong.
Elementary School. Give young kids some historical context behind what is possibly one of their favorite places. Talk about how carousels were developed in the Middle Ages as training devices and go from there, and continue from that point until the present time.
Middle School. Ask students to investigate the different types of parks, which include theme parks, amusement parks, safari parks, water parks, exposition parks, and carnivals, and discuss how each one emerged and why they had/have such impact on families around the world.
High School. Explore early theme parks that closed at some point, yet are still iconic in the American imagination and are firmly set in the historical consciousness of many fans of this type of entertainment. A few amusement parks you might discuss include Luna Park, the boardwalk and beach that remains of Coney Island , Saltair and Steeplechase.
With so many varieties of theme parks — including ride-based amusement parks, water parks, educational theme parks, and safari parks — these lessons give you the opportunity to help students understand what appeals to them and why. You can also introduce the idea of alternative park ideas that offer more educational lessons in addition to, or instead of, thrill rides. Additionally, students can learn about how parks send marketing messages to the public, in general, to attract visitors from all over the world.
Elementary School. Share video that you take during your visits, and assign students to pick out the park’s overall theme, as well as themes for rides through looking at posters and other marketing items. Ask them to choose what appeals to them in images and sound recordings, such as radio ads and jingles.
Middle School. Ask students to design their own ideal amusement park, using traditional materials or shareable classroom technology to produce a model. Your students will gain new insights into the complex combination of creativity and technical expertise it takes to develop and safely run an amusement park.
High School. Assign students to choose an amusement park or safari park then come up with a full-scale marketing plan to attract a wide range of prospective visitors. Students can come up with everything from high-quality descriptive content, sketches or inspirational photographs, music and an idea for a promotional video. Finally, ask students to produce at least one aspect of their plan to share with the class.
By introducing such a fun topic for your students, you open endless possibilities for learning key topics that will not only help them prepare for advanced subjects, but you can help them enjoy their amusement park adventures even more.