Hawaiian Falls Water Park in Mansfield hardly looks like a classroom, but Wednesday, it’s where hundreds of high schoolers from Mansfield and Kennedale got a hands-on lesson about the laws of physics.
“They’ve had a long year of looking at a lot of formulas and a lot of problems,” said Matt Walker, a physics teacher at Mansfield High School. “So to come out and apply that is pretty awesome.”
Walker says water parks are like giant physics labs with everything you need to test a student’s understanding of concepts like acceleration, friction and centripetal motion, so that’s just what he and the other teachers there did.
Before they got to enjoy their rides, the students had to use their cell phones and tablets to scan QR codes posted at each slide, which provided them with a series of physics problems they had to solve. They then had to use various apps to take measurements at each slide, use them to answer those questions and submit them for a grade.
“We’re doing pretty complex calculations that sometimes are pretty challenging,” said Marc Johnson, a junior at Kennedale High School.
The students say the assignment wasn’t a cake walk, but admit it was far from the worst quiz they’ve ever had to take.
“It gives you more of a visual,” said Clayton Ham, a junior at Kennedale High School. “You get to see what you’re doing, what you’re actually working on.”
At the end of the day, they said they enjoyed literally diving headfirst into their school work.
“I feel like it helps us understand what we’re learning in the classroom better by practicing it out in the real world,” said David Ream, a junior at Kennedale High School.
Even better, their teachers said, it proved what they’ve been preaching all along, that physics can be fun.