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10 Physics excursion: safe driver training at Mt Cotton

10 Physics excursion: safe driver training at Mt Cotton

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator: Exceptional Scientists' Program

On Tuesday 15 October, a group of eager physics students embarked on an excursion to the Mount Cotton safe driver training centre. I was lucky enough to attend as well. After the 45-minute drive, we arrived at the centre. We were all very curious about what this day held for us. We were told that we were going to learn about safe driving, however, we were not too sure what we were going to do. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the wonderful instructors. They took us to our first activity, which taught us about drink driving. This was a very engaging activity as they let us try on goggles which simulated us being drunk. Afterwards, we learnt about some theory of distractions, which taught us how dangerous it is to drive while tired, drunk or on drugs. After lunch, we proceed down to the car track where we saw one of the instructors slam the brakes on at different speeds. We all thought that the day couldn’t get better than that; however, after this, we took turns in groups of four to go in a car and test g-forces. This g-force test was so much fun as we tested g-forces while doing donuts in the car. Overall, this excursion taught me a lot about car safety while being the most fun I have ever had on an excursion.

Justin Trethewey, Year 10

Throughout the day we learnt about the study of motion in physics and how it can be applied in the relevant context of driving a vehicle. The most interesting part of the day was learning about g-forces while the instructor was driving us in a car and experiencing and seeing how it changes when accelerating and decelerating/braking. It was a fun and interesting way to learn about the effects of g-force. Another interesting and useful part of the day was learning about car maintenance, where we learnt a wide range of skills about making sure that our cars will be kept in a good condition. I would like to thank Mrs Ellyett for always organising these events and giving us the opportunity to extend our scientific knowledge in an interesting way.

Abby Hansen, Year 10

The most interesting activity that we did was learning about checking a car’s safety and all of the safety features on an old car. It was amazing to see that old cars do not have many safety features at all and that they are only protected from the front. I also enjoyed the braking demonstration put on where a Toyota 86 was tested at different speeds to see how speed affects braking distance. It was amazing to see how much difference five kilometres an hour made to the distance at which it takes the car to stop. Overall, I had a great day learning about the reality involved with driving a car.

Alec Bettany, Year 10

This excursion enlightened me not only on different concepts of physics but important knowledge that will affect my everyday life in the future when it comes to driving. In Experiment A: G-force, we were allocated with an expert driver who performed different emergency trials, and safety experiments. One experiment that was conducted required us (the passengers) to remove our seatbelts and attempt to minimise our movement when the car comes to an emergency stop after only moving 10 kilometres an hour. In everyone’s mind, it was thought that this would be an easy task since the speed was so minimal; however, when the emergency stop happened, we all became vulnerable. This expanded my knowledge on the importance of seatbelts when it comes to safe driving. This trip was most definitely worthwhile and has enhanced my knowledge of concepts of physics and safe driving.

Bardia Sobhani, Year 10

I enjoyed trying on beer goggles, which were meant to demonstrate what it was like to be five times over the legal alcohol limit. With these on, many failed simple tasks like walking straight, high fiving each other, throwing and catching balls, and picking up objects. This was definitely a valuable experience as it helped us understand how to manage our safety when we get our L’s while extending our knowledge of physics.

Claudia Persal, Year 10

My favourite activity was having our instructor teach us about g-forces and inertia. We were able, using an accelerometer, to know the g-force of the car in motion and when the car was brought to an abrupt stop. This lesson was very valuable and will forever remind me how important it is to remain in the speed limit to reduce the risk of a fatal crash. We were also shown how crucial seatbelts are in car accidents. Overall, I will certainly carry the important advice from this day, for the rest of my life. I was surprised to learn that not every person who has their licence, has been taught these pieces of information. So, for any students soon to drive, I would highly recommend going on this trip to open your mind to the ways that you can save yourself from the potentially deadly hazards of the road.

Italia Rees, Year 10

This excursion was enjoyable and I learned a lot of new things during the day. My favourite activity was when we were in a car with a little device which measures the positive and negative forces when accelerating and braking the car. We also learned that putting seatbelts on while the car is in motion is impossible as we have experienced ourselves. It was a lot of fun, especially with a fun instructor! Furthermore, how drugs and alcohol can impact on your concentration while driving was unimaginable, and that fatigue is also one of the factors that people don’t usually realise. Some actions that can prevent terrible injuries and crashes were simply not to drink or use drugs that will make you feel drowsy, take rest and swap drivers if needed. This excursion showed me that physics is always related to our life and it is associated with our everyday actions.

Katy Lee, Year 10

The activity that I found most enriching was learning about the stopping distance of cars at different speeds. The significant increase in the amount of time it takes for the car to stop even when only travelling at a small amount over the speed limit was eye-opening, really putting into perspective how important the speed limits truly are. Overall the day was very engaging and a great opportunity to learn about the different aspects of physics in driving. I am grateful that I was able to have this opportunity to enrich my experience of learning physics at the College.

Lachlan Davies, Year 10

My favourite activity was when we learnt about g-forces. We went in groups in cars and went around a track. We had to accelerate to 60 kilometres an hour and had to do a threshold brake. The driver then told us to take off our seatbelts. He suddenly accelerated and told us to put on our seatbelts as he did doughnuts. Obviously, that was impossible! We put our seatbelts back on and he took us through an obstacle course. We then went inside and learnt about the g-force drivers experience and how safety can prevent serious injury in different types of crashes. After this, we watched a series of videos of people not driving safely and getting into fatal crashes for some extra encouragement to be responsible. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience and we certainly learnt many important skills.

Penny Spears, Year 10