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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