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Waterslides by Valerie and Margie

We love the splashy, slippery rush of waterslides! To learn more about these soggy thrill rides, we visited our favorite water parks to investigate: What makes a great waterslide?

What did we do?
We compared two different waterslides, the "Flash Flood" and the "Salsa Twist." We thought about what makes a ride fun, then measured two things: how fast and how "wild" each ride was. First, Valerie rode each slide several times, timing her ride with a stopwatch. We then found out the length of each ride and divided the length by the average time to get her speed. Next, Margie then rode each ride several times with a mazometer â€" a plastic-covered maze. As she rode down the slide, she tried to follow the maze with a grease pencil.

What did we find out?
We found that the Flash Flood was faster than the Salsa Twist. When Margie tested the rides with the mazometer, she found she could trace the maze neatly while riding the Flash Flood, but not while riding the Salsa Twist. So the Salsa Twist was much more "wild," even though it was slower. Maybe that's why we declared the Salsa Twist the better ride!

What can you do?
• Why not make a mazometer? It's simple: just draw a circular maze on a piece of paper, and be sure to laminate it if you're planning on getting it wet. Take it on your favorite ride, or even your school bus, and see how "wild" your journey is!

• What other "wild" activities can you measure with a mazometer where you live?

• What other features of waterslides would you want to investigate? What other tools (like the mazometer) can you come up with?

• Use this physical science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!

 SciLinks More on Motion and Speed Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.