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Phase 1: Accessing Prior Knowledge

Learning That Works

Phase 1: Accessing Prior Knowledge

A Request for Proposals to save the local theme park is presented during a team assembly that gets a team of 160 eighth-grade students and their six teachers ready to roll on a high-interest roller coaster design project. Everyone is on board!



Request for Proposals


The owners of the Canyon Amusement Park are seeking proposals for a new roller coaster ride. This coaster must thrill riders young and old with unique design features that incorporate the best in safety and engineering while providing an unforgettable experience.


It's no secret that the Canyon Amusement Park is in desperate need of a new high-interest ride. Since the accident, attendance has dropped dramatically. Our goal is to attract roller coaster fans from near and far and restore their faith in our rides. The future of our local theme park rides on your ingenuity.


We will accept proposals in five weeks. Complete proposal criteria available upon request — serious inquiries only.


The Management, Canyon Amusement Park
T. Maves, M. Harris, J. Whitesell, P. Remaley, D. Alexander, S. Aardema

Opening Assembly

The unit begins with a short 20-minute team assembly in the school auditorium. The teachers perform a skit, hand out a project overview, and introduce questions that frame the project learning.

Laying the Groundwork

Following the assembly, students attend regular classes and engage in preparation activities that set the stage for the learning ahead.

  • Phase 1 Science Activities
    Students estimate roller coaster statistics before watching a video and gathering actual data to compare to their estimates.
  • Phase 1 Math Activities
    After an exercise in matching distance and time graphs to different motion scenarios, students use probeware to analyze distance and time plots.
  • Phase 1 Language Arts Activities
    Students write about prior experiences in amusement parks, focusing on sensory images and memories.
  • Phase 1 Social Studies Activities
    Students go on an Internet scavenger hunt and search Web sites that have roller coaster data.
Phase 1: Accessing Prior Knowledge