Source: Produced for Teachers' Domain
Before all the other rides of your favorite amusement park were invented, America's great recreational marvel was the Ferris Wheel. The original observational wheel, built for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, was modeled after a bicycle wheel. It has since become a mainstay of recreation worldwide, with one in nearly every amusement park in the world. In this collection of annotated images, adapted from the National Society of Professional Engineers, learn about other ways that engineers have influenced how people have fun.
You may think of engineers as the men and women who build tall buildings and keep electrical generators operating — serious occupations that address society's needs. And you'd be right. However, society also has a need for recreation. As you'll learn from the following, engineers play an important role in how we relax and enjoy ourselves.
Did you know that without engineers, we wouldn't have water slides? Engineers apply their understanding of physics to just about every component of a slide, from the water pumping system that pushes water to the top of a slide, to the regulation of the water to allow just the right amount to flow down, to the design and materials used in building the slide itself.
Different slide designs reflect the degree to which the friction between the rider's body and the slide resists gravity. Together, the amount of water that streams down the slide and the slope of the slide determine whether a ride will be fast or slow. On speed slides, riders plummet down a steep slope. Resistance created by the weight of a rider's body on the slide is intentionally reduced. In contrast, a spiraling slide has a shallower slope and curves, which act together to inhibit downward acceleration. This slide structure works against the force of gravity and the inertia of the falling body, resulting in a slower ride.
Anyone who has either tried snowboarding or watched a half-pipe competition on television knows that it is an extreme sport — a sport, it turns out, with strong ties to engineering. Sherman Poppen, one of three people credited with the snowboard's invention, was an engineer. In the mid-1960s, Poppen bolted two skis together and attached a rope for balance and steering so his daughter could ride down a hill standing up.
Flash forward to today: From its camber (arch) shape, to its sidecut that gives the board its hourglass shape and aids in turning, to its material composition (bonded layers of fiberglass, wood, epoxy, and plastics), modern snowboards have an engineer's fingerprints all over them.
One last fun fact: A snowboard doesn't actually slide on snow. Rather, the friction of the board's nose as it encounters frozen water particles heats the snow into water, and the board glides over this thin film of water. Knowing this, product engineers must design the undersides of snowboards to ride on a surface that rapidly changes state.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.