A Busy Week

This week has been a very busy one as we opened our doors (well, The Little Mule’s) not once but twice! Yep, four classes over two days. Phew!

On Tuesday we kicked things off with the Science of Rollercoasters. Our teacher, Michael Patterson, started off by sharing with us his love of rollercoasters and then went on to explain everything: where, when, why and how! For example, where and why did the first rollercoaster come into existence? It was a disused coal transporting railway at Coney Island called the Thompson Switchback Railway – travelling at a whopping 9.7 kph! And what is this proposed euthanasia rollercoaster? Yes, you heard me right, Euthanasia Rollercoaster! But more on that later.

By looking at examples of the design and experience aspects of some of the best rides from around the world, we discussed what makes these things exciting, scary and appealing. Did you know that the world’s tallest rollercoaster has a height of 139m, and the fastest one goes from 0 to 206 kph in just 3.5 seconds?! We watched cart-view videos of rollercoasters in action, putting all of these elements into effect; turns, corkscrews, loop-the-loops and that moment when you think you might crash into the other rollercoaster on Island of Adventure’s Duelling Dragons (now called the Dragon Challenge as part of the Harry Potter experience).

To finish off, Michael told us about the ‘Euthanasia Rollercoaster’ designed specifically so that your last few moments on earth are thrilling and exhilarating. Track designer Julijonas Urbonas, a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art in London, stated that the goal of his concept rollercoaster was to take lives “with elegance and euphoria”.

Following on Michael’s heels was Oliver Wood who took us through the ages of the world’s third largest movie industry in his class on Hong Kong Cinema. By watching clips from what are arguably some of the biggest and best films to come out of Hong Kong we discussed the many themes of this idiosyncratic genre, including romance, comedy, and of course kung fu. Oliver helped us to uncover some of the recurring ideas in cinema and even find some influences and parallels in Hollywood movies today.We also saw girls with guns, lots of bloodshed, and Jackie Chan being beaten up by Bruce Lee.On Wednesday Lorelei Schmitt gave us tons of useful information on how to live cheaper, healthier and greener in her class on Low Impact Living. Covering everything from balcony gardens to transport we all went away feeling enthusiastic about saving the world, and our wallets!

Our two top tips from Lorelei were sprouting – growing yummy, crunchy seedlings from a regular bunch of legumes – and the Neighbourhood Harvest map.

Finally, after Lorelei’s class her partner in crime Jacob McElwee taught us the ins and outs of brewing your own tasty beer at home. We got to check out the basic ingredients of beer – malt, hops, barley, water (and yeast) – and learned how to cook it all up to get a delicious beverage at the other end. We discussed the various recipes and techniques used to create different kinds of beer and did it all whilst sipping on some of his own scrummy produce. Delicious!