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Physics & Great America: Eighth Grade

Every year, Presidio Hill School eighth graders visit Great America Theme Park to take part in the Math and Physics contest that calls for an understanding of the principles of physics.

Teams of eighth graders create boats, model roller coasters, automobiles, medieval catapults and more. Students are responsible for researching, designing and constructing their entries, using their newly acquired knowledge of physics. While Presidio Hill entries regularly earn first place prizes for their ingenuity and integrity of design, the value of the experience rests in the hands-on learning it provides students.

Imagine how much more interesting it is to put one’s knowledge to work constructing a model roller coaster than it is to take a pencil and paper test on the facts learned from a physics text. In addition, teacher feedback is less necessary when one’s boat sinks or floats, as the activity itself provides the feedback. This is one hallmark of authentic assessment.