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Ferris wheel

A Ferris wheel (sometimes called a big wheel, observation wheel, or, in the case of the very tallest examples, giant wheel) is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger-carrying components (commonly referred to as passenger cars, cabins, tubs, capsules, gondolas, or pods) attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, they are kept upright, usually by gravity.

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Ferris Wheel via ferry ride to Bainbridge Island

Contributed by Kathryn Vercillo

Introduction The Ferris wheel has everything to do with centripetal acceleration. It is made up of a base that serves to hold up a wheel with gondolas attached to the rim. The centripetal acceleration is responsible for the gondola occupants’ feelings of weightlessness and heaviness. The Ferris wheel also has to do with force, acceleration, and velocity. In example, the amount of force applied by the brakes affects how fast the Ferris wheel stops, and vice versa for the amount of force applied to the starter. I originally chose this roller coaster because it seemed like the easiest roller coaster to engineer. As I began building it, I discovered just how wrong I was. Background Information George W. Ferris was a bridge builder from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who founded the G.W.G Ferris & Co., a firm that inspected and tested metals. An architect by the name of Daniel H. Burnham was put in charge of selecting the project for the Chicago’s World Fair. He vented his frustrations at finding a suitable project at a banquet in 1891. Ferris, who was present that night, became inspired and sketched out the design for the Ferris wheel on a napkin. The wheel had a diameter of 250 feet and a circumference of 825 feet. Powered by a 1000-horsepower engine, the spinning wheel had 36 wooden cars that held up to sixty people, each. The ride only cost $.50, but because of its high capacity, it made $726,805.50 during the World’s Fair. While the original Ferris wheel was destroyed in 1906, there have been many more built. Over the years, architects have gotten creative with Ferris wheel designs. Number eight on Listverse’s “Top Ten Ferris Wheels” list, Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris wheel has 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights and is the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel. The Wonder Wheel, built in 1920, was the first wheel to have passenger seats slide on tracks within the wheel’s frame as it rotates, along with some attached to the outer frame of the wheel. While the most known Ferris wheel, the London Eye, is located in England, Ferris wheels are most prevalent in Japan. This is because Japan is an amusement park culture. In China are six out of ten of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels. My Ferris while, while equally as wonderful, is nowhere near as extravagant as the aforementioned ones. Rather, it is a simple wheel, made out of popsicle sticks. Materials • Approximately 50 popsicle sticks or tongue depressors • Hot glue gun • Drill bit • Dowels (7 or more) • Cupcake wrappers • Ribbed foam grips Method 1. Arrange three Popsicle sticks (or six for a larger wheel, two to a side) into a triangle. 2. Glue the ends of each Popsicle stick together, securing the three points of your triangle, and allow time to dry. 3. Attach two more sticks to the first triangle. The two new sticks need to be glued to the corners of one side of the triangle. Two more sticks are glued to that triangle. Each new triangle should share a side with the previous triangle. Continue until your triangles meet up with the other side of the first triangle and you have created a wheel. Make a second wheel in the same manner. 4. Use the drill bit to drill an off-center hole into each wheel. If you center it, the wheel will not spin. Your holes must be as close to the center as possible, but not quite in the center. 5. Break Popsicle sticks in half and attach them to the two wheels as cross bars. You will need to break half the number of Popsicle sticks as you have sides to your wheels as these sticks are to be spaced evenly in the same intervals as your triangles. For example, if your wheels have six sides, you will need three Popsicle sticks for this step. 6. Repeat step five with your wooden dowels, placing one between each cross bar. 7. Construct two large triangles for the base. Use at least one more stick per triangle side than you used for your wheels. Allow one corner of these triangles to meet further down from the tip of the Popsicle sticks, creating an "X" at the top. 8. Attach your two base triangles together by gluing two sticks to the insides of the bottom two corners of both triangles. 9. Insert a dowel through the holes drilled into the wheel. 10. Put a ribbed foam grip on the both ends of the dowel sticking out of the wheel. 11. Place the wheel on the base so that the foam grips rest in the crook of the base triangles. You may glue the foam grips down if you’d like. 12. Test your wheel to make sure it spins by twirling one end of the dowel. Conclusion I chose to construct my project using popsicle sticks because it was the most cost-effective method. However, it was also the most tedious and complicated. I had to make sure every single cross bar was even, which is difficult considering that they had to be broken in half. Then of course, there was the matter of trying to get the wheel to spin without hitting the base or without falling off or stopping. The instructions for building a Ferris wheel out of popsicle sticks originally called for a paperclip to hold up the wheel and for four sticks instead of two to support the base. But, when I realized that my popsicle sticks were technically tongue depressors and a lot larger and heavier than they were supposed to be, I had to improvise. Thankfully, my improvising worked out for the best. If I were to do this project over again, I would choose quality over cheapness. I could have avoided a lot of hassle if I had chosen a different material to construct my wheel out of. While I experienced numerous obstacles throughout my engineering experience, I have to admit that I did have fun. Not everyone can say that they built a Ferris wheel all by themselves. Throughout this project I have learned the role of physics not only in roller coasters but also in our everyday lives. Physics is everywhere; we just have to know what it is to find it.

Contributed by Vontavia Heard

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