Okay, so your beloved blog author is a bit of a lying liar, but I really did intend to do the blog post on our awesome project day on Friday. Unfortunately, sometimes the whole “educating” thing really gets in the way of blogging. I suppose the students benefit, yada, yada, yada…But, without further ado, here is the “story” of Fall Project Showcase Day.
Middletown and Warrenton held their events on different days, since the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative earlier in the week. However, the content of each day was the same:
Physics II students were tasked with creating an electric vehicle, capable of traveling a given distance in as straight a line as possible with as accurate a time prediction as possible. Their cars contained mechanisms as complicated as custom-built electrical circuits and as mundane as string and toilet paper rolls. Each team was given a distance the day of the event and had ten minutes to calibrate their car to travel exactly that distance.
Electric cars might not have the “wow” factor of the water balloon launchers, but they are extremely intricate, and our students are justifiably proud of them.
One of the requirements of the electric car project is that you cannot launch your car by hand, your mechanism must be sturdy enough to withstand…THE STICK!!!!
Now, this is a difficult assignment, and Mr. Burton and Mrs. LaMonica are aware that constructing something this complex can result in some…misfires, so the students are able to conduct a second trial (still within the 10-minute time frame) if they wish. Revisions are serious business, and students spend that time engaged in furious recalibration.
Water-Balloon Launch Day is a big day in the life of a Physics 1 student. You’ve built something so colossal, so huge, so dramatic; you’ve probably had to elicit parental help just to drive your giant device to the LFCC campus, and you know you’re going to spend the morning using that device to attempt to deliver a six-ounce plastic H2O delivery device as close to the person of your physics teacher as possible. That’s a lot of pressure. Also, a lot of mass, force and acceleration (physics joke!).
Some competitors really value the importance of psychological intimidation in this challenge.
While other teams attempt to intimidate with their construction.
Of course, in the end, it’s the launch that matters, and in the moment of the launch, each team is competing only with themselves.
Of course, to have a great launcher, it’s not necessary to build a giant cannon or even a sophisticated trebuchet. In the end, it’s the calibration that counts.
Both campuses had a fantastic Fall Project Showcase Day. We’re grateful to all the parents, community members, and school district officials who came out to see it. Our project days wouldn’t be as exciting without you, the audience. And, we’ll continue to keep the water balloons pointed away from you for years to come.