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St. John’s kids excel at Physics Day

Take home ‘lion’s share of awards’ at event, hosted at Great America
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What do you get when you put together 18 cardboard boxes, six rolls of duct tape and packing tape, six rolls of bubble wrap, one swimming pool and 12 physical science students from St. John’s School? Some cleverly designed cardboard boats and a whole lot of laughter, of course. At least, that’s how math and science teacher Stacy James described the scene at Great America May 13 when her eighth-grade class participated in the annual Physics Day. “As a teacher of both mathematics and science, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to make the content more concrete and hands-on for my students,” James said. Physics Day gives students in seventh-through-12th grade from northern California the chance to participate in a huge physics lab that encompasses the whole amusement park. One challenge was the Cardboard Boat Race, where students had to build a cardboard boat in 45 minutes and then race it by paddling across the wave pool. The team that crossed the finish line first with an intact boat won. St. John’s team took first place, beating out eight opponents. Students Tim Gollmyer, Jessica Clark, Karlie Place and Bella Stolo designed a hexagonal boat with a swim bladder on the bottom to increase buoyancy. “Despite not having any oars to row, (the students) overcame that by fastening cardboard oars to Tim’s hands to assist him in paddling,” James said. Another St. John’s team, with members Daniel Konieczny, Jacob Beazizo, Chris Loeb and Jared Taylor, took the Titanic award for “The Most Dramatic Drowning.” A second competition called the Mars Lander Contest, or Egg Drop, required students to build a contraption that would safely land an egg from increasing heights with the most cost-effective design. St. John’s team, with students Daniel Konieczny and Mason Haggenjos, took first place for all middle school entries with a design that dropped an egg at 60 feet. “I am so proud of all my students,” James said. “They demonstrated great teamwork, understanding of scientific concepts and, for being such a small school, we sure took the lion’s share of awards that day.” ~ Sena Christian