High School Science Outside the Classroom

Posted on November 23, 2005  Comments (0)

Science and engineering outside the classroom in two Arlington, Virginia high schools: Yorktown High School and Washington and Lee High School.

At Yorktown, Pumpkins Are a Physics Lesson by Ryan Self:

The students”™ machine featured a bike wheel, balanced vertically and supporting a large pole. At the end of the pole, a basket with a special latch was affixed to hold, and eventually fling, the pumpkin.

“We literally didn”™t finish until the night before,” Conlan said. “There were some kinks, but we kept overcoming them.”

“People were showing up with huge air-compression machines that were the size of trucks,” Lanberton added. “There were plenty of veterans to the competition there.”

The three students”™ longest shot of just under 50 feet hardly kept pace with the eventual champion”™s 700-foot toss, but Yorktown physics teacher Dan Carroll, who introduced the students to the idea, said he was as proud of them as if they had won.

“I”™ve been going to Punkin Chunkin for four years, and I always wanted to see some students get involved,” Carroll said. “Every year I see more and more kids show up.”

“It”™s an opportunity to apply the concepts of physics, in a hands-on way,” Carroll added. “The students did it all independently, outside of school. My involvement was very limited.”

Students with Pumpkin

Washington-Lee Teacher Finds Creative Way to Get to Work by Ryan Self:

Avondet, an automotive technology and International Baccalaureate technology teacher at Washington-Lee High School, has attached a large gas-powered motor to his 12-speed bicycle, giving him the option to fire up his bike when weary legs fail him.

“There have been some kinks, but nothing too major,” he said. “The engine won”™t work as well in the rain, and I”™ve got the front light hooked up to the generator, which keeps burning out bulbs when I go too fast.”

Avondet”™s students say that while the bike is one of a kind, they aren”™t too surprised to see their teacher riding it.

In just two years at Washington-Lee, Avondet has already had one student build a similar model as a class project.

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