Below are samples of the suite of technology and hardware innovations I am developing with multiple vendors. 

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VR edumusement project using rides to teach physics in Sweden.

VR edumusement project using rides to teach physics in Sweden.



For students learning about physics, understanding the relationship between motion and forces can be hard to visualize…and sometimes not so interesting to learn! This is about to change, because a shared passion for theme parks between Swedish-based physics professor Ann-Marie Pendrill and Australian PhD candidate and amusement academic Malcolm Burt has led to the development of a “Virtual Theme Park”, where students take a spin on theme park rides in VR headsets, with physics forces overlaid to show them the forces at work. The project is an example of edumusement (in that it blends education and amusement) and it is designed to test the idea that VR experiences might lead to better physics learning outcomes than traditional textbook descriptions.

Students begin their adventure with a short primer about the kinds of forces to be expected on the rides, then they make predictions as to what they will feel when they experience these forces. Students then put their VR headsets on and the app gives them the choice to climb aboard a steel or wooden coaster, a drop ride or a swinging ride. The students ride the highly realistic computer generations and have a chance to adjust their predictions, before seeing the same rides with force overlays, which then confirm or correct their predictions. The personal experiences of our body are rarely used in education – the "body" in Newton's second law is more often a box in the classroom or a nondescript point particle. In amusement rides the forces relating to acceleration are experienced throughout the body. How can we build on that experience to develop student understanding? Can the VR visuals effectively evoke earlier experiences of the changing forces in roller coasters, swings and drops?


VTP promo slide 281117.jpg


The Virtual Theme Park (VTP) is part of a wider package of media projects being created by the duo for the purpose of physics education. This includes a version of the VTP for Google Cardboard, which is an app and package of educational materials with branded headsets sent to schools, and a more advanced version of the project which offers expanded ride choices, higher-quality headsets and utilises a VR motion platform simulator. Other projects include VR experiences which teach angular momentum via physical gyroscopes which students strap themselves into, and a web-based TV series and accompanying vodcast where the passionate duo live in a theme park and deliver physics education whilst taking a spin on some of the most intense theme park rides in the world.

This project brings together the experience and knowledge of two academics who are both passionate about thrill rides, and reality – real, virtual and augmented. Please contact Malcolm Burt on or Ann-Marie Pendrill on for interviews about the project, and further information about how to access the experiences.

VR waterslide consultancy—Germany

VR waterslide consultancy—Germany


The ever-popular theme park waterslide is about to enter a new dimension thanks in part to a QUT academic who has become a world-leading expert in fun.

Malcolm Burt, currently doing his PhD which seeks to define the elements required to deliver the ultimate virtual reality theme park ride, was asked by German waterslide company Wiegand-Maelzer to consult on its world-first virtual reality waterslide concept.

“Certain design elements are still being ironed out but the VR waterslide concept is in testing and there is nothing else like it in the world,” said Mr Burt who completed his Research Masters on why rollercoasters exist and created the documentary, Signature Attraction.

It was after watching this film that Wiegand-Maelzer’s Head Engineer Frank Heimes made contact with Mr Burt.

“Malcolm has an unusual combination of disciplines, including theme park research and media production, which make him ideal to contribute to this ride experience.” said Mr Heimes.

Mr Burt said of the slide: “It doesn’t have a name yet but we are working on ideas that tie in with the story the ride tells. It’s expected to open to the public at the Galaxy Water Park in Erding, Bavaria later this year.

“Essentially, it’s a waterslide, but when you ride, you’re wearing virtual reality goggles which totally intensifies many elements of the experience. Using research into VR immersion, and how to trick the brain into believing it is danger, every twist, turn and launch is magnified, and it definitely makes for more of an adrenalin kick.

“By adding practical effects to the mix, the ride can also make you feel as though you are doing things like riding a lava flow and dodging volcanic eruptions. Volcanos are very hot right now in the world of theme park rides.”

Mr Burt’s work as consultant on the new waterslide aligns with his research into virtual reality which is gaining him international acclaim.

“Theme parks are always looking to create new experiences and virtual reality is the holy grail at the moment,” said Mr Burt who recently gave a TEDx talk in Salinas, California entitled ‘What’s Wrong With Reality?’ where he discussed society’s endless need for amusement and distraction­—in theme parks, virtual reality, and even social media.

“As well as my work with Wiegand-Maelzer, I have secured legendary amusement park company Six Flags as an industry partner for my PhD, allowing me to collect data from their attractions including VR rollercoasters and a 415ft VR drop ride.”

Other vendors participating in his PhD field studies and data collection later this year include motion platform VR simulators and VR walkthrough amusement attraction vendors in the USA and Europe.

“What’s really exciting about the virtual reality waterslide though is that it is not just about data collection on an existing attraction—my research is actually feeding into the development of the ride from the beginning.”

“This mix of research and industry consultancy is what I plan to do more of once I finish my doctorate.”

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449,

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901,