Traveling 65mph on the world’s tallest water slide


View from the top of Verrückt, the world’s tallest waterslide. (Image courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts. Used with permission.)

By Cheryl Siegel

You’ve climbed 246 stairs, and now you’re strapped to a raft 168 feet above the ground. You are about to begin your ride on the tallest, steepest, and fastest waterslide in the world. Verrückt—which means “insane” in German–opened to the public July 2014 at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. The initial descent is essentially a free-fall—almost a straight drop from 15 stories, in which the raft then accelerates to 65 mph.

The course takes advantage of the relationship between gravity and friction to ensure the rafts remain on the slide. By conducting extensive tests with both sandbags and humans, the ride’s engineers were able to ensure that Verrückt would be safe for all, though they do impose a weight limit of 550 pounds per raft.

To learn more about gravity, friction, velocity and acceleration, please visit OCW’s introductory physics course, 8.01L Physics I: Classical Mechanics. The unit called “Kinematics: Describing 1D Motion, Relative Velocity,” explains the concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration.

Making sense of the violence in the US

March from the White House to the Capitol. Image by Susan Melkisethian

March from the White House to the Capitol. Image by Susan Melkisethian

Our hearts ache from the violence that has taken place this month. The shooting deaths of Alton SterlingPhilando Castilefive police officers in Dallas and three police officers in Baton Rouge fill families, friends, communities, and a country with deep sorrow.

It’s almost impossible to make sense of this violence but in these tragedies, it’s clear that fear, racism against Black Americans, the police, and guns played important roles.

However, any understanding or solution begins with education. Education can profoundly change belief systems, shift perceptions, and reduce ignorance and hate.

With the hope of gaining knowledge to enact positive change, here are some resources that offer some understanding of underlying causes surrounding these horrific events, and perhaps ways we can better communicate and connect with each other for the better.

Understanding current events

21H.319 Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law – The readings of this course offer insight into the key issues in the historical development and current state of modern American criminal justice, with an emphasis on its relationship to citizenship, nationhood, and race/ethnicity.

24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice: Race and Racism – lecture notes delve into the questions “How should we understand racial injustice? Does racial injustice continue to exist? If so, what steps might legitimately be taken to end it?”

24.02 Moral Problems and the Good Life – the Racism, sexism and speech section surface questions about the the cultural and economic structures that may reinforce sexism and racism.

17.922 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. IAP Design Seminar – students develop in-depth understanding of the history of US racial issues as well as past and present domestic and international political struggles.

21M.630J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies – explores the experiences of people of African descent through the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. The course also has a good reading list.

Other resources

Black Lives Matter –  an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and Black allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.

I, Racist – text from a sermon that John Metta, a Black writer and poet, gave as a congregational reflection to an all White audience.

Changing the world and yourself for the better

CMS.615 Games for Social Change – workshop to design and prototype games for social change and civic engagement.

Letter from President Reif to the MIT community – reflecting on the importance of “leading civic institutions have a responsibility to speak clearly against these corrosive forces and to act practically to inspire and create positive change.”

17.905 Forms of Political Participation: Old and New – examines the associations and networks that connect us to one another and structure our social and political interactions.

CMS.361 Networked Social Movements: Media & Mobilization – a seminar that examines the relationship between social movements and the media and how resources and awareness can be mobilized.

11.948 Power of Place: Media Technology, Youth, and City Design and Development – workshop that explores the potential of information technology and the Internet to transform public education, city design, and community development in inner-city neighborhoods.

21G.019 Communicating Across Cultures – course that helps you become more sensitive to intercultural communication differences, and to provide you with the knowledge and skills that will help you interact successfully with people from cultures other than your own.

Other resources

The Science of Happiness – an edX course that focuses on how happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change – an edX course that helps you learn the values, techniques, and themes social workers use to help others as well as strategies for addressing social justice challenges.

[Updated July 20 after police officers killed in Baton Rouge LA]

When the Student Becomes the Teacher

Image courtesy of uoeducation on Flickr. License: CC: BY-NC

Image courtesy of uoeducation on Flickr. License: CC: BY-NC

By Cheryl Siegel

When you think of students at a university, you might imagine them taking classes, doing homework, participating in sports or maybe working at the school newspaper.  But did you know that at MIT, students can also teach their own classes?

Through the Educational Studies Program at MIT, students have the opportunity to teach courses to high schoolers and middle schoolers on a wide variety of topics – some serious, some not so much –  including the history of heavy metal, probability, and medical device design.

On Highlights for High School, we have captured a few of these student-run classes.


Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

Humanities and Social Science

Gödel, Escher, Bach

Europe in Crisis

Leadership Training Institute


Combinatorics: The Fine Art of Counting

Probability: Random Isn’t So Random


The Big Questions

Excitatory Topics in Physics

Another 7 reasons to donate to OCW now!

Here are another seven reasons you should donate to OCW.


1. There are more than 2,300 FREE courses on OCW.


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2. You never have to find something new to learn – it’s all on OCW.


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3. You used OCW when you took an edX/MOOC/distance learning course.


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4. You’ve been meaning to, but haven’t found the time (so PLEASE do it now).


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5. You can brag to your friends, you’re an MIT donor!


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6. Your brother donated and you want to give more than he did.


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7. You are a believer in STEAM education for all (remember, it’s FREE).


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So please support OCW and donate now. We truly appreciate it!

7 more reasons to donate to OCW now

Here are seven more reasons you should donate to OCW (if you haven’t already).

1. You can learn ANYTHING you want, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. (You can’t register even if you wanted to.)


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2. Did we mention you NEVER have to pay a cent to use OCW??


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3. You are one of the 60,000 people who visit OCW every day.


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4. You, too, believe that OCW can help reverse inequality.


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5. It’s easy!  Click here and find out!


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6. You always wanted to be one of the ‘cool’ kids.


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7. You join MIT in its own philanthropy of sharing education with the world.


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So go on ahead, donate now. (Thanks! )

7 reasons you should donate to OCW now

OCW is celebrating 15 years of open sharing with the world! To honor the year we were announced (2001) , we need 2,001 people to donate by Monday, June 20th for our Spring fundraiser. So far, more than a 1,000 people have donated and we’re so thankful!

We still need more learners to donate to reach this goal. Here are some reasons you should donate to OCW (if you haven’t already).


1. OCW IS ALL FREE!  (There’s no cost, nada, no catch!)

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2. EVERY DOLLAR IS BEING MATCHED.  That’s like doubling your donation which doubles your impact. See what Heshey says.

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3. You are annoyed there aren’t more videos on OCW  (the $100,000 matching gift would help us with that)!

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4. Donating now will make you feel goooood!

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5. You can afford to donate, especially for those that can’t but are grateful to access OCW.

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6. It’s your way to celebrate OCW’s 15th anniversary.

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7. Your gift helps us keep the lights on!

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So don’t wait. Donate now, and thanks!

“I am 53 and have been out of work for 5 years, struggling driving around the state, trying to self educate but as you know nothing replaces a degree. Every dollar I have has to stretch for food, heating fuel and travel money. I do appreciate the opportunity to a self educate put forth by the MIT OpenCourseWare and I am always praising MIT for their philanthropic efforts.” – John, USA