Seeking Physics at Hershey Park


Tiffany Chen

Though initially dreary, the weather at Hershey Park soon brightened during the trip, to the delight of students and teachers alike.

Jenny Yu, Features Editor

On the morning of Friday, May 13, State High physics students piled into four Fullington buses as they headed off to Hershey Park for a day of fun. For many of them, this was their first field trip in two years. While the Hershey Park field trip was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, an amusement park field trip has been a longstanding tradition of the State High physics department.

“When I was a physics student at State College Area High School in ‘89 and ‘90, we did not have an amusement park trip for physics classes,” physics teacher Andrew Ricker explained. “When I started working as a physics teacher at State College Area High School in 1999, the physics division was already having an annual trip to Kennywood in Pittsburgh, so the trip must have become an annual event sometime in the ‘90s.”

By the mid to late 2000s, ticket prices between Kennywood and Hershey Park evened out such that it became cheaper for State High to go to Hershey Park due to bus mileage prices. Thus, State High’s annual trip to Hershey Park began, and the rest is history.

This year’s trip implemented one new change however, in the form of an online scavenger hunt through the GooseChase App. Using the app, students were required to take pictures of amusement park examples of the physics concepts they had learned throughout the year, like momentum and centripetal force.

“It was kind of difficult to pinpoint a lot of [physics elements],” senior Lizzy Davidson said, “but it was kind of cool [..] I definitely prefer it to the idea of calculating kinematics equations for every ride.”

“[The scavenger hunt] was fun to think about,” senior Michael Downs said. “I would never apply physics to my daily life, so it’s funny to provide examples in an amusement park.”

As for the actual rides themselves though, the patience of students was tested as wait times proved intense.

“We went on three rides, and that was all,” Downs described. “I spent probably 15 minutes [waiting in line for] the first ride, an hour and half on the second ride, and another hour on the third ride—almost three hours in lines total for a 5 minute ride time. Even the food lines were just as long as the ride lines.”

Senior Ashrafur Khan faced similar challenges in the park.

“I rode rides, but mostly waited. We rode a total of three rides, paid for overpriced and mediocre food, and waited an average of an hour plus for each ride. There were just too many people that day,” Khan lamented.

Despite these shortcomings, students remained positive overall regarding the trip experience. One fortunate event in particular: the weather had forecasted a thunderstorm during the trip, but the storm didn’t start until students had left the park.

“[Waiting in line] wasn’t that bad because I was chilling with my friends,” Downs said. “ It could’ve been worse, and the weather was pretty nice. It only rained for about 2 minutes, but then stopped. Even with the wait times, I would go again. It’s better than being in class.”

Davidson agreed, recommending the Hershey Park trip to all other future physics students: “Just be prepared to stand in a lot of lines at Hershey, especially if it’s a weekend trip. Come prepared to the park, have a fully charged phone, and bring lots of money, because Hershey’s really expensive.”