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Roller Coaster Camp Puts the Thrill in Learning for Students in Potsdam

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Roller Coaster Camp Puts the Thrill in Learning for Students in Potsdam
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It's a week where classrooms and tests are replaced with rides and excitement. As Matt Jarchow explains, Clarkson University's Roller Coaster Week gives kids a new way of looking at the math and physics they experience every day.

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Students at Roller Coaster Camp get to put physics to use by creating a coaster of their own.

And then they get to ride it. Clarkson University's virtual roller coaster machine is just one example of a week filled with a different kind of learning.

"We try to balance the math and the physics that they learn with some fun things so that they can put it all together," Associate Professor of Mathematics Katie Fowler said.

But it's more than the thrill of a roller coaster that has students excited.

"Last year I met a lot of new people and most of them were really nice," participant Alyssa Montgomery said. "I met a lot of friends, and just had a lot of fun."

"It's fun," participant Katelin Gardner said. "You spend time with other people you don't know, and you get to do things that you wouldn't be able to do in a normal classroom."

Among them, trying to drop an egg without breaking it, tracking data of a potato gun and pulling a tablecloth off its table. All fun activities and all a new chance to teach and learn.

"Teachers today are under a lot of stress to work with the common core, but I think this is where kids really do the learning, the hands on stuff," Graduate Fellow Matthew Fowler said.

The students get a chance to share what they learned at the end of the week. Then it's the instructors who get their questions answered.

"It's always overwhelming for us to see how much they learned," Fowler said. "Throughout the week we're kind of questioning are we doing it right, could we do it better? But on that day when we see it all come together and they're answering questions correctly based on the lessons, it makes it all worth it for us."

And for the students, a week of learning math and science has never been so much fun. Roller Coaster camp also includes a trip to Six Flags in Lake George to collect data and ride on some real coasters.

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