Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waterpark Field Trip, and How Water Slides Work

On the childrens' birthdays, we have a tradition of doing something fun together as a family. (We usually only give 1-2 gifts, so their activity is sort of their gift as well.) For Daisy's birthday we went to the Aquarium and for Seb's, we went to a waterpark. Now this sounds like one of those "mostly-just-fun-thing-trying-to-justify-itself-as-'educational'" types of Field Trips---and I would have been totally fine with that, since this was actually a birthday activity, after all---but surprisingly, the lesson leading up to this Field Trip was one of the most interesting and informative of the whole unit, I thought. We had a library book on "how water parks are built," but I thought the most useful resource we used was this website. It has diagrams of the parts of a water park system (the pumps and filters that keep the water moving), explanations of kinetic and potential energy, and more. It was awesome. From this same site, we learned about "water coasters" (we'd never heard of those!) which use strong currents or magnets to push you UP hills as well as down---like a roller coaster in the water. We looked up a bunch of videos so we could see those in action. (e.g. here)

Seeing how these concepts are applied in real life added substance to our discussion of inertia, friction, thrust and drag, types of energy, etc. And it was great to see the children running around at the water park calling out things like, "Look Mommy! Cantilevers!" and "Whoa, did you see the way my inertia pulled me up the side of that curve?"

Also, we just had a fun time. :)

I'm cold.


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