So it's your First Time...

If this is your first time bringing a group to California's Great America for Physics/Science/Math Days, take a quick perusal of the information below. It may help you in your thinking.

In the items below, we assume you have already lined up transportation, obtained your tickets to the park, and signed up your students. It's a last-minute sanity check.

  • Do your students have work that they must complete at the park? When are you going to collect the completed work ... when they return that day, or later? It's always best if there is work due at the end of the day or during the day. And is there an alternative assignment in case one of the rides is not operating?
  • Does everyone know the procedure for loading buses and getting to the park? Have you planned loading time into your schedule?
  • Does everyone know what they are expected to do while at the park? Do they know your expected behavior standards? Do they know how to contact you if they need to at the park? (cell phones are great!)
  • Do you have emergency numbers in case you need to contact parents or guardians? Do students know where the emergency area is at the park in case something comes up?
  • Does everyone know the procedure for returning from the park?
  • Does everyone have plans for eating? It's a long day if you don't have money for food.
  • Do you have extra equipment in case it's needed at the park?
  • If students are participating in the various contests, do they know where to go and when?
  • If students are doing projects, do they have the necessary equipment?
  • Are you prepared in case the weather turns bad? The park will still be open, but some rides may not operate.

And consider these:

  • The park provides the place, you provide the curriculum. Make sure you have something educational your students will be doing at the park.
  • The Electronic Data Center (near Vortex) will check out equipment for gathering data on the rides. Students wind up with printed graphs and can take the data home on a USB jump drive.
  • Consider taking your students on a "tour" of the park, focusing on the science behind various ride features. If a large group, schedule them in shifts.
  • Consider having your students, in groups, take a ride and develop their own lab for that specific ride. They would decide what could be measured or estimated, perform the measurements and calculations, then submit a detailed report. This could be enough for their whole day's work, or a significant portion. This could be a source of activities for next year.
  • Be at some location at published times so students and other adults will be able to contact you for help or to turn in materials they are finished with.
  • Be sure to drop by the Teacher's Lounge for a spot of refreshment. Also check out the various contests and activities while you are there in case your students didn't participate this year. There's always next year.
  • Keep a record of what you did and when so you can refer to it next year. It's not good to repeat mistakes, and it never hurts to write down what went particularly well.

Best wishes for a successful day at Great America!