For the past 16 years, through a NYSED STEP grant, Clarkson’s IMPETUS program (Integrated Math and Physics for Entry to Undergraduate STEM) has held a summer Roller Coaster Engineering camp. This year roughly 50 7 – 12th graders came to campus from St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Franklin Counties to engage in collaborative hands-on activities such as designing scaled blueprints and models of roller coasters, implementing their coasters in a first-rider simulation experience, predicting the coefficient of friction using wall-mounted tracks, and a trip to Six Flags to collect data and meet with roller coaster technicians. Students and teachers were from Brasher Falls, Ogdensburg, Heuvelton, Colton-Pierrepont, Harrisville, Malone, Norwood-Norfolk, and Gouverneur.
This year, CU undergraduates Connor Bauman, Samantha OKeefe, Hayden Beattie, Jordan Patione, John Pluff, and Nick Niles and graduate students Joe Judge and Freddie Amoah-Darko mentored students and helped deliver the curriculum alongside the faculty team, Professors Mike Ramsdell, Katie Kavanagh, Josh Thomas, Jennifer Knack, and Ben Galluzzo. This year, students also conducted experiments to understand the effects of microgravity and G-forces on the body in activities led by Dr. Alex Schreiber from St. Lawrence University. Students studied projectile motion and how to pose research questions by investigating what makes Cornhole a challenging, fun game. The camp curriculum is designed to get students interested in STEM and is a lead-in to the academic year program which takes place after school and includes monthly visits to campus for college preparation workshops, academic support, and more hands-on STEM enrichment activities.
Campers enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with each other and their teachers and also make new friends while building problem-solving and communication skills and gaining a deeper understanding of roller coaster kinematics. Everyone had a great escape!