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Making a splash: the world's tallest waterslide opens in the U.S. --just in time for summer!

Here's a warning for thrill seekers riding a new waterslide in Kansas: Don't look down! This slide is the tallest--and fastest--ever built.

The slide is called Verruckt (vair-RUCT), which means "insane" in German. "It definitely lives up to its name," says Winter Prosapio. She's a spokesperson for Schlitterbahn (SHLIT-ter-bon) Kansas City Waterpark, where the ride is opening this month. "When you see it, insane is the only thing that comes to mind," she says.

Those brave enough to take on the waterslide will plummet 17 stories. They'll whoosh along at more than 104 kilometers (65 miles) per hour!

Taking the Plunge

Before park visitors can ride Verruckt, they have to climb its 264 steps. The staircase twists around a tower built from railroad cars. The heavy cars make the super-tall structure extra sturdy. That way it won't sway in the wind.

At the top of the slide, riders pile into four-person rafts. On many waterslides, people slide down alone and on their backs. But engineers decided against making Verruckt a body slide. They thought the experience would be more fun and less scary as a group, says Prosapio.

As riders head toward the drop, their raft is loaded with potential energy. After they start heading down, the pull of gravity tugs the riders toward Earth. (Screams usually start here!) Potential energy turns into kinetic energy, which speeds the raft down the slide.

Slip and Slide

A waterslide wouldn't be a waterslide without water. On Verruckt, it pours down the slide's chute, reducing friction between the raft and the slide so the raft can go faster.

After Verruckt's first drop, rafts encounter a smaller, five-story hill. They need a nudge from a jet of water to get over it. How much of a push is required depends on the combined weight of the raft and its riders. A sensor measures this to figure out how big a blast is needed.

There's one last thrill after riders zoom down the second hill: the splashdown. The force of the raft hitting a shallow pool of water at the bottom helps the raft slow down. It also soaks people watching in the slide's splash zone. Even the spectators have fun, says Prosapio. "Just watching people go down the slide is an amazing sight."

(1) BOARD THE RAFT: After climbing 264 steps, riders hop into a four-person raft and buckle their seat belts.

(2) A LONG DROP: The raft plunges over the drop. Gravity helps the raft build speed-up to 65 miles per hour. A safety net that spans the length of the ride protects riders in the unlikely case of a fall.

(3) HIT THE HUMP: The raft goes up and over a five-story hill. This reduces its speed for the final descent.

(4) A SPLASHDOWN: A shallow pool of water slows the raft after it zooms down from the hump.

(5) GET OUT: Riders leave the raft--many either quivering with fear or ready to ride again!

(6) BEGIN AGAIN: A conveyor system returns the raft to the top of the tower.



Lexile Level 770; Guided Reading Level P


Learn the science behind the world's tallest waterslide.


Obtain ajar lid, a square textbook, and marbles.


1. Lay the textbook on a flat desk. Tell students you will spin the textbook around and they need to count the rotations. Attempt to spin the textbook. Ask:

* How much did the textbook spin? (hardly at all)

* What force slows the textbook down? (friction)

2. Place the jar lid centered under the textbook. Have students predict rotations if you spin with a similar force. Spin the textbook. Ask:

* How many times did the textbook spin? (Answers will vary, but it will spin slightly better than without the lid.)

* What happened to the force of friction? (Friction was reduced.)

3. Place marbles under the lid and textbook. Spin with similar force. Ask:

* How many times did the textbook spin? (Answers will vary, but the amount will be higher than with the lid.)


* What is the purpose of pouring water down a waterslide? (Water reduces the friction between the raft and slide, so riders can go faster.)

* What safety features are incorporated on the world's tallest waterslide? (The raft contains seat belts. A safety net surrounds the whole length of the slide and a pool at the end helps slow the raft down.)


Design a roller coaster: /parkphysics/coaster/

Super slides

In "Making a Splash" (pp. 8-9), you read about the construction of the tallest, fastest waterslide. But the Verruckt isn't the only slide that could make you scream. The table to the right shows the world's five tallest waterslides. Use the table's data to create a bar graph below. Then answer the questions. Round any decimals to the nearest tenth.

5 Tallest Waterslides

Name             Location                 Height

Verruckt         Kansas City, Kansas      52 m
Kilimanjaro      Barra Do Pirai, Brazil   50 m
Spacemaker       Venezia, Italy           42 m
Insano           Aquiraz, Brazil          41 m
Summit Plummet   Orlando, Florida         37 m

Source: USA Today

1. In meters, how much taller is the tallest slide on the chart than the fifth-tallest slide? --

2. Which two slides are the closest in height to each another?--

3. What is the difference in their heights in meters? --

4. How tall is Italy's slide in feet? (1 meter = 3.28 feet) --

5. Imagine you want to build a slide that is taller than the Spacemaker but shorter than the Verruckt. In feet, what would be the height range for that slide? --


1. 15 m 2. Insano and Spacemaker 3.1 m 4. 137.8 ft 5. taller than 137.8 ft but shorter than 170.6 ft
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Title Annotation:physical science; Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark, Kansas
Author:Crane, Cody
Geographic Code:1U4KS
Date:May 1, 2014
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