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Project launches physics students into a hands-on-experience

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Credit: Grayson McCoy / The Foothill Dragon Press

Students roaming the quad during class hours had to stay alert as physics students were at work, calibrating and firing ballistas, catapults and trebuchets all of which were launching tennis balls from the concrete pathway to the grass stretches of the quad.

 

Students roaming the quad during class hours had to stay alert as physics students were at work, calibrating and firing ballistas, catapults and trebuchets all of which were launching tennis balls from the concrete pathway to the grass stretches of the quad. Students in physics got to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in the tennis ball launch project.

The project let students have a hands on experience with the material they are learning.

Trevor Godfrey ’17 thought that it “was a good chance to do hands on stuff instead of calculations on paper.”

The grade for the project was broken into two parts: construction and performance.

 

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Students were given the task of creating a machine that was capable of firing a tennis ball and before the day that they were launching the balls they had to fill out a data table with recorded distances at different levels of power.

The second portion of the grade was how well they performed on the final day, students were given a specific distance to shoot their tennis ball and the closest to that distance got the highest grade on that portion.

 

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“Obviously calibrating it and having to all these little calculations was really tricky and difficult,” Alex Cohen ’16 said. “But it was really fun because we did get to launch tennis balls.”

After teams were finished calibrating their machines, physics teacher John Weldele walked over to each team as they fired their machine and recorded the distance the tennis ball was from the target. Each team fired their machine twice before the whole class went back inside.

“It’s a fun project and I always look forward to it each year and I hope that even if it is a little stressful at times that when they look back at it, it’s one of the highlights of the class,” Weldele said.

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