A Theme Park Experience for Low-Income Students in Watts

A Theme Park Experience for Low-Income Students in Watts

From Ginalyn Mina

I serve as a high school math teacher in a low-income neighborhood in Watts, Los Angeles, and I'm helping my AP Calculus students raise money for an unforgettable experience--a trip to Six Flags!

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I remember my first experience on a rollercoaster. Coming from a small town, I was mesmerized by the massive structures and designs that pictures and videos could never really capture.

When discussing the details of an upcoming project with my AP Calc students involving rollercoasters, many of them told me they'd never been on one. They'd always wanted to try, but a combination of monetary issues, busy parents, or lack of transportation, prevented them from ever actually doing it. Therefore, I've made it a goal to have this particular experience become a reality for them, while at the same time, helping them recognize the awesome applications of calculus! 

They are some of the most hardworking students I've met who have had to grow up quickly to survive the circumstances of their community. I want them to have life experiences that expose them to new things, make learning math fun, and that allow them to be kids. Also, what better way to get them pumped for their upcoming rollercoaster project than to experience seeing and being on a rollercoaster themselves! With your donations and support, you can help expand their classroom beyond the four walls and enrich their learning experiences like never before.

AP Calc Rollercoaster Project details:

This semester, one of the biggest and most important concepts we are learning is differentiation. Before going to the park, each group will be assigned a roller coaster at Six Flags and do research on it's design and construction, especially how it relates to back to the functions we've analyzed in class. Using their knowledge on differentiation, they will then determine the velocity and acceleration at various points of the rollercoaster (i.e. drops, turns, loops, etc.) making informed conclusions about how "thrilling" their rollercoaster is, which is something engineers think about when constructing a ride.  Being at the park itself will give my students the chance to test out their hypotheses, and to take note of what parts of each rollercoaster actually felt thrilling to them. After our trip, my students will reflect on their experiences. They will extend their thinking by recalculating the speed at those points they felt had their greatest "thrill factor", and discuss any trends in their calculations and how calculus is important in the construction of these rollercoasters. Ultimately, they will use what they've learned to create a thrilling rollercoaster ride themselves!

The funds will be used for the following:

Six Flags Tickets for 13 students and 2 chaperones - $27.99 x 15 tickets = $419.85

*note: tickets are originally $42.99 each, but $15 for each ticket will be covered

Rental car + Gas - approximately $20.00 

TOTAL NEEDED = approximately $440.00

Date of Trip: December 8, 2017 

Thank you again for your support of these amazing scholars!

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