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A Passion For Physics

The project Flippies n’ Spinnies is a perfect representation of the Passion Project in Peter LaMoreaux’s Physics class.


“I love it when a student’s passion inspires them, " said LaMoreaux.


“We picked gymnastics because Sanna Blad and I are on the team,” said Bianca Torque. “Our coach always says to us gymnastics is applied physics. We thought teaching our lab-partner, Ivan Sauca, to do a handstand would be great for the project because doing a handstand is used in all the skills in gymnastics and it’s all about physics.”


For the experiment portion of the project, Bianca and Sanna took Ivan to the gym and had him practice. His first attempts failed because he didn’t have the proper angles required.


“It was hard because I was bending my legs and there was a weight imbalance and I kept falling over,” said Ivan.


“We explained to him to keep his arms straight and as he bent down to keep in a t-position for the correct angle and when he kicks his legs up, to keep balanced in a straight line,” said Bianca.


Ivan’s physics takeaway: “make sure your center of gravity remains over your hands otherwise there’s a handstand failure.”


Pendulum Waves was selected by Arianna Clancy because of its beauty and design–the mesmerizing swing of pendulums on strings–and because she likes to build things.


Arianna works on home projects with her dad, who has built their deck and many other improvements around the house. He brought her to Home Depot for wooden dowels which she sawed down in his workspace for the pendulum structure.


“The hardest part of this project was getting the lengths of the string right–I did some research, but mostly it was trial and error. My inspiration was the black light paint to make it glow in the dark. It looks really cool when it gets going.”


The physics: The pendulum wave machine creates a visual of this concept by using different lengths of string to hold weights of equal mass. When the weights are all pulled back evenly and let go at the same time, it can be observed that they each cover different distances and create an alluring pattern.


Charly Handal’s passion for her project–The Windmill Water Pump–was to beat her brother, who attempted the same project when he was a sophomore,


“He and his partner had trouble getting the pump working. I was inspired to figure out the problem of the pump,” said Charly.


The windmill, which is about two feet high, is made up of wooden dowels, kebab sticks, hot glue gun, syringes, and marbles–actually works. In fact, it was voted top overall project by the class.


“I liked getting the pump working–that was satisfying and learning that these pumps are really helpful to people in parts of the world where there is little electricity and water is hard to get,” said Charly.


The physics takeaway: friction between siblings can create a winning project!


Physics of a Handstand