Tomorrow’s scientists enjoy Physics Fun Day

March 11, 2013 by  

Anaheim parents whose children shun the hard science courses may tempt their offspring with the knowledge that, once a year, Knott’s Berry Farm turns into a physics lab.

This year, the annual Physics Fun Day was held on March 7 and involved around 4,000 high-school physics students from 60 schools. Those located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties provided packets of physics problems to each student, which included ascertaining the maximum height and acceleration of roller coasters, building the tallest tower comprised of one sheet of paper and 30 centimeters of tape, and a paper-airplane competition.

The event was the brainchild of retired westminster High School teacher Jim Pacelli, who started Physics Fun Day in 1993. The excitement of reading a course catalog printing that includes at least one all-day outing to a fun location to practice what was learned in class must be an innovative way to educate. The day is not all work; after all, it helps to get close to a problem in need of solving. Students rode the roller coasters to aid them in their calculations and fueled their brains with typical theme park food, such as funnel cakes.

Traditionally, each Physics Fun Day has featured a theme, and this year’s was Albert Einstein. Another customary part of the event is having the students construct their own measuring implements. Armed only with such basics as a pencil, paper, string, and a protractor, the students need to use their imagination, as well as their knowledge of physics.