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Virtual theme park

The personal experiences of our body are rarely used in education – the "body" in Newton's second law is more often a box in the classroom or a nondescript point particle. In amusement rides the forces relating to acceleration are experienced throughout the body. How can we build on that experience to develop student understanding? Can the VR visuals effectively evoke earlier experiences of the changing forces in roller coasters, swings and drops? Will overlaying VR representations of physics forces lead to better learning outcomes than traditional textbook descriptions? This project brings together the experience and knowledge of two academics who are both passionate about roller coasters, and reality – real, virtual and augmented.

Malcolm Burt ( is an amusement academic with over a decade of media production experience creating TV commercials, TV series, documentaries and media campaigns. His Master’s degree explored why roller coasters exist, and led to the creation of the documentary Signature Attraction. He is now pursuing a PhD, investigating what's required to make the ideal virtual reality amusement ride, as well as producing VR experiences for amusement and education.

Ann-Marie Pendrill has a background in computational atomic physics. Since 2009 she is the director of the Swedish National Resource Center for Physics Education at Lund university, where she was appointed professor in Physics education and science communication in 2015. She has used playgrounds and amusement parks for physics teaching for more than 20 years, and is interested in how different representations of motion support student understanding of forces and motion. (

Movies from the project