Ever go to a local theme park and think about how all those rides got to be where they are? What about all the other systems that make the park work? A group of Ellicottville Central students put together those systems and have created their own miniature amusement park, complete with rides and a monorail.
The combined efforts of Chris Edwards’ engineering design and robotics and transportation systems classes have created a fully automated example of what can be done in a short period of time by determined students.
Both classes are mixed high school classes. Students in grades 9 through 12 put together the hands-on design and engineering needed to map, construct, and operate a monorail, gondola and several rides in the park. Even the parking lot is automated, according to Edwards.
“The Transportation Systems class designed, built, and programmed the park’s transportation
systems,” Edwards said. “The park features an automated parking lot, a remote control monorail, a gondola to travel through the mountains to the other end of the park, an automated transit system that travels between the rides, a ferry ride on the perimeter of the park, and a safari adventure.”
Their counterparts in the engineering design/robotics class used the same programs as many of the area industrial employers use to create rides similar to the UFO, a Ferris Wheel, a cliff drop, tower of terror and even a mega swing. Each piece was built using Tetrix Robotics kits, including several motors and a variety of sensors to make their creations work.
“This project gives the students a taste of what it is like to work in manufacturing,” Edwards said. “When this class started, I had a bunch of kids that had no idea what they wanted to do. Now several of them want to go into some sort of engineering.”
That process is one that starts early, and for that reason, Edwards said the park project will remain up after its public unveiling at the May 21 science fair. Students from the elementary level will have a chance to tour the park and hear presentations about how and why science, math and technology come together and affect daily life.
The project is one in a line that looks to continue next year, Edwards said. In previous years, the classes have come together to create a 48-foot Rub Goldberg-type creation, a fully functioning ski resort and, possibly for next year, an interesting take on a manufacturing line.
“We have talked with some students about next year. We may have a Willy Wonka style line that makes candy,” Edwards said.
“This is definitely a different kind of class,” Edwards continued. It requires that the students spend 42 minutes straight, in every class, programming and building.”
Interested in seeing the working funland? It just so happens that May 21 is also the date for the School District budget vote.