As 2017 comes to an end, a reflection on doors closing and opening. Turning 65 this year, I can now travel slightly cheaper on trains and local buses, but it also hints to a countdown to the closing door at 67.
For the Resource centre 2017 has opened wider the doors to research on representations of motion, including virtual reality.
Research, representations and roller coasters
Following the appointment in April of 2017, Urban Eriksson as a researcher at the NRCF, two PhD students have been added to the Resource centre, with preliminary projects focusing on various representations (“semiotic resources”) used in physics teaching and learning. As part of the preparation, I have looked into various ways or representing the motion of the family ride Hissningen at Liseberg (and the sister rides Lyktan at Gröna Lund and Stjernetårnet at Tivoli Gardens).
As Liseberg is building the new roller coaster Valkyria, simulations have provided doors to sneak previews into the ride, as seen when you ride it: as POV movie or in Virtual Reality, complementing the few images so far available on the liseberg.se/valkyria. A moving chair made the Valkyria VR experience even more real, even if the variation in the force from the chair acting on you is restricted to changes in angle.
As I am always curious about the forces in roller coasters arising from the accelerations as the train moves along the track – and how these can be used as examples to support physics learning. The limited footage available for Valkyria reminded me of my special desires for photo angles.
To clarify my wishes, at least to myself, I created a timeline for the Helix roller coaster, based on elevation data from a ride, with small images from the various elements seen from outside. I then realised that raw html technology from the mid-90’s made it possible to let each image be a door to exercises related to that element, advent calendar style. I also discovered that, over the years since Helix opened, I had collected short video clips for most of the elements, that teachers could let students use for video analysis. (See the resulting “calendar“)
Can Virtual Reality experiences of rides support learning?
This question will be explored next year, as part of a collaboration with Malcolm Burt, who pursues a PhD investigating what makes for ideal virtual reality amusement rides. As part of the School Program of the 2018 Gothenburg International Science festival , five classes will have a chance to try out our “Virtual Theme Park”, giving us valuable feedback on how to proceed.
Of course, a virtual reality in a classroom cannot make you experience seconds of weightlessness or feeling much heavier than usual, but since most children in the larger Gothenburg region have experience with many different amusement rides, we hope that they can recall the experience. To help them make connection to the physics learned in school, force representations will be added in an augmented reality version.
In October, we experienced many types of VR, not only at Liseberg, but also at The Derren Brown Ghost Train in Thorpe Park, the large three-dimensional representation of the universe in “All we are” at the Visualiseringsscenter C in Norrköping. We also tried the Dæmon VR at Tivoli gardens (where we were amused to find that we both for a split second thought that we wouldn’t be able to see anything with the rain covers on the VR glasses). With much joy I recall the VRcoaster encounter, discussed in an earlier post.
With a December glimpse through the Helix track onto the Liseberg Rabbit Land, I wish you all a …