Year 12 Physics Excursion

The 2020 Year 12 Physics class attended the VCE Physics Day at Luna Park on Wednesday 4 March. Luna Park’s VCE Physics Day has been designed by teachers, with assistance from Luna Park’s management team, to provide students with practical examples of some of the concepts covered in the topics ‘Motion in One and Two Dimensions’ and ‘How Fast Can Things Go?’ for Unit 3 of the VCE Physics Study Design.

Our class of 26 students was required to record data on the forces experienced by people while on the rides. More information was also recorded by the students on the rides, as we were able to experience how forces acted on our bodies while travelling upside-down and at high velocity. The data was recorded on our smart phones, which were safely located in our pockets; recording the acceleration and time of each ride. We later analysed the data in a SAC which looked at the application of energy transformations and forces on the rides at Luna Park.

This experience demonstrated Physics concepts in action. Our class investigated the energy transformations on rides including the famous ‘Scenic Railway’. This is the only riding brakeman operated roller coaster in the world today, and it is the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world. We recognised how friction was used to slow the momentum of the rollercoaster. Furthermore, our class was able to observe the application of mechanical energy, which was dependent on gravitational potential energy at the highest points of the roller coaster, and kinetic energy during the fastest point of motion down towards the ground. Arguably the most enjoyable element of the excursion was experiencing how the combination of weight and normal forces acted on our bodies during the ‘Dropper’, which dropped the students from a great height, causing them to accelerate towards the ground at a high velocity, giving us a ‘gut dropping’ sensation which we couldn’t get enough of. We made sure to eliminate any experimental outliers by revisiting the ride three times!

Ultimately, the excursion to Luna Park demonstrated Physics concepts that we had been studying in class, in a social yet interactive environment, where we were also joined by other schools who too attended the Luna Park Physics day. Our class left the excursion with enormous smiles on our faces, all while learning about ‘How Fast Things Can Go’; our Unit 3 outcome.

Scott Fisher
Year 12 Student