Need advise on starting a middle-school club for roller-coasters

Saturday, March 9, 2013 12:26 AM

Hello:

My 11-year boy is a coaster-maniac of the extreme kind. So I thought it would be neat to start a middle-school club for like-minded kids. I got the approval, they'll give me a room for an hour each week after school.

Has anyone else done this before? I have so many ideas, don't know where to start. The goal is to keep it exciting, relevant, fun, friendly and educational - just a memorable growing up experience that these kids can recall fondly after growing up.

So, I'm thinking of multi-media presentations (slides, video, etc), T-shirt design, coaster design and simulation (with RCT or Nolimits) projects, guest speakers from amusement parks, history of coasters, trivia quizzes, basics of math and science behind how they work, new construction materials. Anyone know of a plant/factory where they make or assemble coaster parts for a short field trip (we're in the Detroit, MI area).

Any other ideas are MOST WELCOME.

Cheers,

Rusty

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Saturday, March 9, 2013 12:57 AM

Maybe also a slight history of how coasters got started. Not too much though...kids are bored by history.

The only plant I can think of is the plant for B&M in Ohio, but I don't even know if they allow tours, and that is a heck of a trip, I would imagine.

That is so cool you're doing that for your son. Best of luck!

Make sure they're all introduced to the RCDB.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013 1:12 AM

Perhaps part of the club could be devoted to building a coaster. There are large established sets where each group can work on a part of it and then have a celebratory type of day where the parts are connected together or they can build a replica or orifinal idea from scratch.

I have run such a club for Sixth Graders and it was a huge success.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:51 AM

Doing activities with this age is the only way to go. Too many speeches, presentations, etc. will quickly loose their attention.

That being said, there are a lot of science demos you can do hands on with this group to talk about coasters. I'm not sure if it still is there, but the Toledo Science Center used to have a whole exhibit devoted to roller coasters, where you compared the steepness of the drop and the speed, the tightness of a curve and the ability of a car to do a 360 inversion, how high hills can be following a drop, etc. Detroit Science center may have a similar setup now, though I have never been there.

Also, take a look at Bill Nye and Discovery. They have done some roller coaster specials that might be worthwhile.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013 8:36 PM

Pick a park each week and discuss the coasters in that park and what makes them awesome!

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Sunday, March 10, 2013 1:31 PM

Neat ideas, all. Thanks for the insights. Good point about being activity-driven because static presentations would lose their interest. Although I think some multi-media driven presentations would be interesting.

It's an informal club for 1 hour after school once a week - so making trips to COSi or B&M (that would actually be MY dream to go) is unrealistic - at least in the beginning. Paperwork, chaperones, waivers, etc - not what i want to get into.

Currently they are running clubs for math, art, drama, etc., so by comparison this has got to be more interesting, no? :)

Great idea to pick a park each week and dissect it - maybe split them into teams and have them create their own presentations to show the rest. Some group dynamics in play. I stumbled upon the JASON project which has some interactive coaster functions, need to look into it more.

Someone mentioned a more realistic coaster-kit - big enough that they can split up into groups to build the station, drop, middle-section, ending, etc. separately and put them together? That would be awesome - did you have a name or website for that? Gotta figure out where the money is going to come from - donations? sponsorships? This could be big...very big :)

Cheers and thanks again all!

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Monday, March 11, 2013 12:19 AM

Our first team model was the Screaming Serpent. Later we moved on the Knex 6 foot ferris wheel, etc.

You can even have the kids create a homemade marble run to see if it can complete a circut.

Funding can come from grants, the PTA, etc.. You can also send a letter to your local paper(s) to ask for donations of used lego, knex, etc. You never know what you will get and people are always looking for space in their homes because the kids outgrew it, etc.

Good luck on your quest. It's a great endeavor.

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Monday, March 11, 2013 4:00 AM

This might be something fun to look into:

http://www.cedarpoint.com/article/media-center/KNEX-Great-Thrill-Ri...ff-is-back

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Monday, March 11, 2013 11:44 AM

If you can get the school to pay for it, or maybe even have the kids' parents chip in (if there are enough kids in the club), then you could get your hands on a coaster model kit from CoasterDynamix.

I don't have one myself but they seem ideal for that type of thing. They are fully customizable working models. If not, the ol' half-cut pipe insulation with marble method works great, too!

Last edited by Bakeman31092, Monday, March 11, 2013 11:45 AM
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Monday, March 11, 2013 1:47 PM

Though I hope the Coaster Dynamix site improves soon and that they restock the store...nearly everything was sold out!

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