Using K’nex sets, a motor, and very few instructions, students in Liz Waite’s AP calculus class put their minds to the test to create and assemble an amusement park ride.
In small groups, students brainstormed ideas and then put those ideas into a scaled working ride. The model had to include motion in some manner as well as be structurally sound. They also had to show a mathematical equation that represented the motion of the ride as well as at least three calculus concepts that relate to the function of the ride.
Once their ride was built, tested, and working, students created marketing summary presentations that could include safety features, forces experienced by the riders, velocity, overall scaled dimensions, and features that would attract potential amusement parks to purchase the ride as well as a summary of the mathematical model and calculus concepts explored.
Students then made a formal presentation and demonstration to a panel of judges, peers, and teachers.
These students exhibited outstanding math and calculus skills as well as creativity in both the rides and the presentations.