Combines modern technology and old-school carpentry in a way that puts ordinary science fair projects to shame.

Every fall, Japanese schools hold what they call a culture festival. Held on the weekend and open to the public, these are Japan’s version of open houses, where alumni and people from the community can tour the campus and see the current students’ school spirit and ingenuity on display.

Common student-run culture festival projects include cafes and haunted houses, but some of the third-year students at Takanawa Junior High School in Tokyo’s Minato Ward had even bigger ambitions They wanted to build a roller coaster, and they did just that, cobbling together a wooden course that snaked its way around one of their classrooms. Then, to make it even more awesome, they gave riders a VR headset which transported them from the school’s interior to a coaster zooming above a virtual cityscape.

The video, shared by Japanese Twitter account @MobileHackerz, shows the coaster in action. Just as the clip ends, we can see what the rider is seeing projected onto the classroom’s blackboard, but for a better look, Twitter user @pansan1029, the student who made the VR visuals, posted their complete version.

What’s arguably even more impressive is the humble bundle of tools @pansan1029 used to craft the VR component. All he needed was popular construction game Minecraft and a pair of mods (one called ExRollerCoaster and another to improve lighting and shadow effects), and the end result was immersive enough that people who rode the students’ VR coaster said the ride felt longer than the 20 seconds it actually lasted.

@pansan1029 wasn’t entirely satisfied, though, saying that the team had difficulty matching the start of the VR program to the exact moment when the physical roller coaster car began moving. With more time and resources, he’d have liked to work out some sort of touch sensor to perfectly synchronize the timing, and also to render the virtual environment using Unity, a higher-spec software development engine than a modified version of Minecraft.

Still, this is an incredible feat for a group of 14 and 15-year-olds, and we look forward to seeing what kind of amazing things @pansan1029 and his friends will do for their high school culture festival next year.

Source: Twitter/@MobileHackerz, IT Media
Top image: Pakutaso