Monday, July 9, 2012

Science of Disney Imagineering: Trajectory

We shipped Schnickelfritz of to Camporama yesterday which means its just me and the dog at home (until Toolman and I go to join him on Thursday--more about that later).  So what's a mom to do?  Well, I am taking some time to scrapbook, but I'm also entering next year's school work into Edu-Track.  A new challenge this year will be teaching a hands-on science class at our co-op.  I've decided to use the Science of Disney Imagineering DVDs to introduce each subject and we'll either do the Try It Yourself experiments or something else that fits the topic (we're not going to build that hovercraft from the Gravity DVD).   Now's as good a time as any for me to finish up my summaries from this great series.  So today we'll look at Trajectory (I think this is Fritz's favorite).

Asa's Invention:    In order to feed guests quickly Asa builds the Churro-Matic 3000 to launch deep fried treats into the guests waiting hands.  I think this is why my son loves this video.  While trying to perfect the speed and angle of launch Asa sends churros into a co-worker's bowl of soup, takes out a model coaster, and impales a computer monitor--nothing captures a boy's fancy more than comedic destruction.

Defined Terms:   Trajectory, Gravity, Projectile, Parabola, Zero G's

Disney Rides and Attractions that exemplify the theme:

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt show:  It turns out it takes more than just horsepower and guts to perform the crazy car jumps that entertain guests.  To do the same trick over and over day after day someone had to perform some pretty precise calculations with car speed, launch angles, etc.  Asa suggests a new stunt with a bicycle and garbage truck launching at the same time off of the same ramp.  In theory, with no wind resistance, the two vehicles would follow the same path--although the stunt coordinator said he wouldn't want to be the guy on the bike.

Toy Story Midway Mania:  Since the interactive element of this ride takes place in the virtual world, we are dealing with perfect trajectory with only gravity to consider.  Each time the ride stops for shooting, computers are determining the up & down, and left to right angles of the pull string cannons.

Disney's Fireworks shows:  We often walk away remembering the beauty of the display and how well it flowed with the music.  Did you ever stop to consider just how someone gets all those explosions to occur at the right time and position in the sky?  They know the mass of each firework and the launch angle of each tube.  A computer controls compressed air to adjust the speed at which each projectile is launched and the laws of physics take over from there.

Leapfrog Fountains at the Imagination Pavilion:  I could spend hours watching these jets of water hop from pad to pad (sometimes right over my head).  Water is normally a very turbulent fluid, so to pull this trick off special flow heads had to be installed to "calm" the water down do that it will follow the parabolic path when squirted out.

California Screamin'  The roller coaster train isn't a projectile because it has to follow the path of the tracks, but trajectory does play a part in coaster design.  When the tracks pull the cars down down at a faster rate than it would normally follow from gravity alone the rider is rewarded with that weightless feeling.

Try It Yourself   Asa and some friends build a three-man sling shot.  (We won't be doing this for my co-op class since we inside a church--but it could be a lot of fun!)

If you'd like to learn about the other titles in the Science of Imagineering series click here.


tikvah73 said...

You could always go outside to build the slingshot :).

Sounds like it will be a great series for coop. Would love to know the cost.

North Laurel said...

Interesting! I'd not heard of this before. Hands-on science has always been a tough one for me.
Stopping by from the Comments Club :)

Karyn Tripp said...

This looks like a lot of fun! I have never heard of these before either. I'll have to look into it more... Visiting from the comments club. Have a lovely day!

Melissa said...

Adding myself to the never heard of category! How cool!!

Missouri Mama said...

These DVDs are a little on the expensive side--about $30 for 30 minutes. However, I've had no problems getting all the titles through inter-library loan.

Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

I need to complete our planning as we will jump back into school in a few short weeks. I'll add this to my library request list.

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