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Experiments in gravity challenge logic

“OK, release it!” The car careens madly as gravity plays its role; practically airborne, the end of the track rapidly approaches.

With a resounding crash the car comes to an abrupt halt. Yet, instead of rescue workers responding with frantic haste, students calmly measure speed, calculate acceleration and record data.

During September, the physics class has been challenged to apply textbook theories to practical scenarios. Labs using car and ramp experiments have confronted students and forced them to use logic and reasoning to derive answers.

“We will be doing these car labs for about two weeks,” Rod Atchley, science department head, said. “The current lab coincides with the textbook problem set 11, and the students will be asked to apply previous knowledge to the lab.”

Atchley believes that students should comprehend the problems of real life opposed to just memorizing formulas for tests.

“I try to create designers, opposed to technicians,” Atchley said. “Technicians can only do the problems, but the designers understand and apply the principals to new situations.”

Some students seem enthusiastic about applying common theories and principals in the modern world. These physicists put what they have learned to the test.

“It lets us think about how things work in the world today,” Bethany Morton, ’06, said. “Every day things that we wouldn’t think about, we learn more about; it boggles the mind.”

This year the physics class will be given the option to take the Advance Placement (AP) test. Unlike some AP tests, there are three different versions for physics. The test this physics class will be offered is Test B, which will even encompass some calculus.

“People have the option to try the AP test,” Atchley said. “The author of the physics book which we use states that upon completion of the book, students are cable of passing the AP Test.”

Some students chose to take physics without knowing they would have the chance to take the AP test.

“I’m very nervous, but I’m also very excited,” April Fujihara, ’06, said. “I am looking forward for the chance to receive college credit.”

This year physics is considered the highest-level science class offered on campus. Students are encouraged to work beyond the homework given from the text; some have taken up Atchley’s challenge to build their own hovercraft.

“I like the idea of conducting experiments by ourselves,” Bryce Fonda, ’06, said. “It allows me to be more creative. I will be working with my uncle, which is a plus, to create my hovercraft.”

The study of physics holds significant importance in the real world. It defines the basics of modern; engineering, travel, technology, criminology, science, and life.

“I like the physics class,” Tara Albrechtson, ’06, said. “It gives me a stronger background in science so when I major in a science related field in college, all my hard work is going to pay off.”

For more information students and parents can contact Atchley at 299-1695, ext. 142, for more information about the AP test go to www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap.

Alec Kneefel

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