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Designing a Ride and Learning Math at Epcot


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Sum of All Thrills simulator ride at Walt Disney World Epcot

Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel

Can children who do not know how many sides a triangle has get excited about learning math and engineering? Maybe a field trip to an amusement park will do the trick.

That is the idea behind a new initiative from Disney and Raytheon to let children design their own theme-park ride using math tools and then hop in a robotic simulator to try it out.

The game, called Sum of All Thrills, will allow budding ride designers to let their imaginations run wild, either in person or online.

Visitors to Disney’s Epcot theme park in Orlando, Fla., will be able to use a touch screen to choose whether to design a roller coaster, bobsled or jet ride. Then they can use engineering tools like rulers and speed dials to add hills and corkscrews to the rides, while mathematical formulas for things like velocity and acceleration flash across the screen.

When the design is complete, the Epcot visitors can climb into a robotic simulator designed by Raytheon and Disney engineers to experience the ride.

Online, Raytheon will offer a version of the program at MathMovesU.com. Visitors will have to answer math questions to get new pieces for the ride, and when it’s done, they will see a visual simulation of their work.

In the past, we have covered several other Web sites that teach math to children.

The new ride program is sponsored by Raytheon, a military contractor, as part of its corporate philanthropy program to interest young people in math, science, technology and engineering. Math education is strategically important for the company, said William Swanson, Raytheon’s chief executive.

From The New York Times
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