Students Use New Knowledge of Kinetic Energy to Make Something Unique


Jesten Richardson

Freshmen used their knowledge of kinetic energy that they learned in their physical science class and applied it to a group project. Students were challenged to build a roller-coaster with their new knowledge out of foam piping.

Jesten Richardson, Staff Reporter

Started by teacher Ken Adams around six years ago, the Rollercoaster Wars is an event that challenges the freshman class’s ability to put its knowledge to work through an interesting medium—the building of scaled-down rollercoasters—before the Thanksgiving Break each year.
This time-consuming project that all Cabell Midland grades have now experienced is often a lot of work to put together, but there are plenty of staff members that make the event doable.
“Mrs. Bekka Adkins is the workface,” said Tyler Ellis. “It’s kind of her baby now, and she takes the lead.”
But, Adkins isn’t the only teacher that takes weeks to prepare the event for the youngest class of Cabell Midland.
“We (the freshman teachers) teach the subject-matter for at least 14 weeks,” said Ellis. “Students have to learn a lot about motion and why things behave that way in motion, and then we give them the materials needed to build the coaster, and they execute the plan. A lot of calculation and math explains why the marble behaves the way it does when the students are completing the worksheet.”
Such a complex project may seem too difficult to some of the project’s participants, yet some students really enjoy the project.
“I remember building the coaster with foam,” said junior Ben Noble. “We (Noble’s group) had a jump in our coaster and it worked the one time that the teacher came over. The project got everyone excited and we put more effort forward than in other group stuff.”
Noble isn’t the only student that enjoyed his work on the annual Rollercoaster Wars when it was his turn to complete the project.
“I was excited to do it, because I’d never built a rollercoaster out of foam,” said freshman Jessica Adams. “The hands-on experience was good. Building it, checking the loops, making the whole thing work—it was the best experience.”
This hands-on approach is what some students and teachers admire the most about the Rollercoaster Wars.
“I think that instead of book-work, hands-on was good, because it’s easier to learn hands-on than out of books,” said Adams. “I think that it’s going to be good for future freshmen because hands on helps people understand things better than just drawing or taking information out of a books.”
Some teachers certainly agree with Adams views on learning, and are pleased that they can incorporate this approach into the Rollercoaster Wars, even with the added stress that the project brings and the lack of recognition for that sacrifice.
“I encourage students to thank teachers, because these big projects take a lot of extra work for teachers,” said Ellis. “We could always just do bookwork all day.”