How theme parks can make kids smarter

By Allison Walker Torres, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 6:13 PM EST

You've heard your kids say this before:But Mom, why do I need to know this!? I’m never going to use this stupid formula in real life!”

Well guess what, kids? You probably will, especially if you want to build really cool rides at a major theme park.

We tagged along with a group of Howard Middle School eighth graders at Universal Studios Florida. They were participating in a program called Your Classroom in Motion: A STEAM App series.

“So when they’re sitting there in class and wondering, ‘Why do I have to know this?,’ they get to come here and experience why they need to know this," Universal Orlando Program Development Sr. Manager Teresa Crews said.

STEAM App uses the know-how behind Universal's biggest attractions to help students deepen their understanding of how science, technology, engineering, the arts and math are integrated in the park's rides. While STEM is a well-oiled machine, adding the arts -- thus making STEAM -- adds the story.

For instance, as the students were escorted to the front of the line at Transformers: The Ride 3D, they learned about the engineering principles of the six degrees of freedom.

“So now they understand why the vehicle moves the way it does," Crews said.

"Now that you know it’s moving and 'pitch and roll' and that it has six degrees of freedom -- it makes the ride a little bit better," said eighth grader Cody Cunningham as he was walking out of the attraction.

“You can have your own imagination and you can actually put that into your own thing and create," his classmate Andy Lee added.

These students are in Eric Yuhasz's robotics class at Howard Middle.

"I just love that they see they can walk out of here and there are jobs they can get with the knowledge that I'm giving them in the classroom," he smiled.

Students can also rock out their STEAM App on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster. That's where they get hands-on lessons about the conservation of energy behind one of their favorite attractions.

Teachers who want to participate in this youth program can visit the Universal Orlando Youth website.