ERIE -- The students in Andrea Adams' physics class at Mason High School are on a roll, and they're looking forward to some wild rides.
The youngsters designed and built a model of a roller coaster that was among the winning entries in the Great Thrill Ride Build-Off sponsored by Cedar Point Amusement Park and K'NEX Products, the maker of the building materials they used.
For their achievement, the roller coaster model, called the Scream, will be put on display at Cedar Point this summer, starting May 14.
The students also won a $250 credit for the school to buy more K'NEX materials and a free K'NEX building set for each member of the class.
They've also won 15 tickets to Cedar Point, and for them, that's the icing on the cake. "They're really looking forward to the trip," she said.
The Mason roller coaster competed in a field of about 300 entries from across the country, according to Kate Loffio, a spokesman for K'NEX, the Pennsylvania company that describes its products as the world's most creative construction and building toys.
"They're one of five winners," Ms. Loffio said.
The other winners are Fairbanks High School, Milford Center, Ohio; a home-schooled student group from Eden Prairie, Minn.; Glenfield Middle School, Montclair, N.J., and Marshall Middle School, Wexford, Penn.
The Mason project actually won two contests. It also was named the Fan Favorite among the five winning entries. This was an online contest conducted through the K'NEX Web site, knex.com. For this distinction, the class will receive 30 more Cedar Point tickets; a private, backstage tour of the amusement park, and $2,000 worth of K'NEX materials.
Mrs. Adams said she decided on the roller coaster project for her physics class because "I wanted something that would get the kids excited."
A roller coaster involved a lot of physics, she noted, including velocity, acceleration, and speed forces. "Everything is there at Cedar Point," she said.
In addition to building a functional roller coaster model, the contest required the students to write a 500-word essay explaining their project and produce a video clip showing it in action.
Moriah Foley, a 17-year-old senior, helped design the Scream and drafted the essay. She and Scott Pomerville, who is 17 and a junior, served as project manager and came in on Saturdays to meet their three-week deadline for completing the project.
In her crisply written essay, Moriah writes about the Scream's "GPE" (gravitational potential energy) and "KE" (kinetic energy). A sample: "Our coaster is built on a scale of 1:50. . . . This angled curve then leads into a 50-degree descent. This hill levels out to control the velocity of the car as it heads into a 360-degree declining portion of the track."
Moriah said she plans to attend Michigan State University next year and study biology.
Scott said his parents were mechanical engineers and told him about some of the principles involved in a roller coaster. He said he planned to study computer engineering in college.
Bret Konoff, 18 and a senior, said he built the Scream's car, which had to be given more weight for stability. He plans to attend Monroe County Community College next year to take the prerequisite courses needed to transfer to a college where he can study engineering.
Annie Zelm, a Cedar Point spokesman, said the roller coaster models will go on display in the Town Hall Museum in Frontierland during Math and Science Week at the amusement park and remain there all summer.
"We're in the business of roller coasters and we want to be involved in the training of future roller coaster builders," she said.