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Students show show coaster skills at Clarkson physics competition (follow up)

April 18, 2013 @ Clarkson University

FINAL ADJUSTMENTS - Kelsie D. Plourde, 13, a student at Colton-Pierrepont Central School, makes adjustments to her team’s Electric City marble roller coaster Wednesday during an annual roller coaster competition at Clarkson University. (Hunter Photo)

POTSDAM - Students in grades 7-12 showed off their inner theme park designer in a roller coaster competition Wednesday at Clarkson University.

Over 50 students participated in 13 teams. Each submitted a small roller coaster track designed for a marble to run, created out of household items.

“I enjoyed working with everyone after school,” said ninth-grader Rhiannon O. Dunn of Colton-Pierrepont Central School.

Her four-person team submitted a military-themed coaster, using a vacuum hose from a swimming pool as part of the track.

MONUMENTAL - With Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower prominently displayed on their Around the World marble roller coaster, Harrisville students Alivia M. Hall, 15, left, and Tori L. LaParr, 15, carry the roller coaster back to the bus Wednesday following the annual roller coaster competition at Clarkson University. (Hunter Photo).

The competition was the finale of Clarkson’s IMPETUS program, created to get students engaged in science and mathematics before they head to college.

IMPETUS stands for Integrated Math and Physics for Entry To Undergraduate STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“This is one way that we can get students in middle school and high school to get more interested in science,” said Clarkson physics professor Michael W. Ramsdell.

Students from nine school districts took monthly trips to Clarkson for programs to promote their interest in these fields, and Clarkson students took trips to the other schools to continue the lessons there.

“It’s their opportunity to see what it’s like on a college campus,” Mr. Ramsdell said.

At Wednesday’s competition, students were quizzed on their knowledge of the science behind building their roller coasters. The entries were judged based on their length, adherence to the restrictions set and the complexity of the ride. Each loop counted as five points.

COASTER CREATION - Logan J. Goolden, 15, a student at St. Lawrence Central School, makes some adjustments to the Brasher Nightmare marble roller coaster Wednesday following the annual roller coaster competition at Clarkson University in Potsdam. (Hunter Photo).

“I’ve always thought for a roller coaster, there’s got to be at least one loop,” said eighth-grader Brandon M. Bogart of Ogdensburg Free Academy.

His team built a towering coaster out of insulation foam and red plastic cups that had not just one loop, but three, enough to impress the judges and win Ogdensburg the trophy for best coaster.

“It was cool, because we could learn a lot more than we do in school,” seventh-grader Joseph T. Lalonde said.

Harrisville Central School took home both second and third place. The third-place coaster was painted pink to honor breast cancer awareness, while the second was decorated with models of the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and Big Ben.

Source: Daily Courier-Observer Website: Click Here for more information


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