News / Calgary

Alberta students get schooled at Calaway Park

For over 2,000 Alberta high school students this physics lesson is anything but textbook.

On Friday, teens flocked to Calaway Park, located just outside of Calgary, to learn about the twists turns and corkscrews the amusement park's rides had to offer. The program is part of the park's Science Day, which now is hosted by the University of Calgary's physics department.

"The two different groups are all looking at the rides from a completely different perspective," said Phil Langill, senior instructor with the department of physics at the University of Calgary. "There's a junior high workbook, and for those guys they're looking more at how the rides fork, the engineering of the ride, and the senior high kids are studying things like energy and forces."

Langill said the students are each given a workbook, and with an optional exam they are given the chance to get a BSC, MSC or PHD in Rollercoasterology, as they study each ride against physics equations – but Langill hasn't had a student step up to the challenge yet.

"The hope is that the teachers cover some of the concepts in class, and then they're going to come out here and apply those concepts to the real world."

Elizabeth Watt, a master's student studying radiation oncology physics, said it's great to get out of the classroom to see physics in action. She spent the day walking around the park and helping teens keep on track with their equations.

"It's so fun to see science in action and to help show high school kids about it and teach them in a more fun environment for them," Watt said.

She added it's important for the high school students to see different career opportunities, adding maybe the Science Day could inspire others to go to university – after all it was physicists and engineers who made the fun rides possible.

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