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A Hersheypark Roller Coaster Physics Lesson Inspires Milton Hershey School Middle Schoolers to Accelerate Their Learning

For most people, going to Hersheypark is more about riding roller coasters than learning how they work. Last week, Milton Hershey School Middle Division students went to Hersheypark to apply their knowledge of physics to roller coasters.

“Real-world experience is always important because it’s one thing to read it in a textbook or on the internet, but to be able to get out and talk to people and see the roller coasters first-hand is important,” shared Casey Ainsworth, MHS Eighth-Grade Teacher. “The career readiness focus is important for our students. Today we saw dozens of occupations in just two hours.”

Engineers from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) met with groups of MHS eighth graders to give behind-the-scenes tours of the rides at Hersheypark—explaining the importance of physics in making sure roller coasters are safe. The students explored pulley systems, magnetic breaks, kinetic energy, gravitational pull, and the laws of motion in addition to how employees take the cars on and off the tracks, the role that weight distribution plays in making roller coasters operate, and more.

Milton Hershey School Middle Division students apply physics knowledge to roller coasters

“It’s great the way HE&R prioritizes the interaction with Milton Hershey School students and not only makes days like this possible but stresses the importance of us participating. For me personally, it’s a lot of fun to talk to students about how roller coasters work because it’s something a lot of people don’t think or know about,” said Brad Kirkham, Director of Engineering at HE&R.

Experiential learning opportunities like this allow MHS students the opportunity to see classroom topics in action. Thanks to our community partnerships, Hershey and the surrounding areas become their classroom.

“I learned more than physics, I learned about different careers. When we ride the rides, we don’t think about how they work. Because of today, I now have a better understanding, but it doesn’t make me feel differently about riding roller coasters,” Molina Fully, MHS eighth grader.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.