SPHS physics students test boats at Greystone YMCA
Published 4:01 pm Friday, September 18, 2015
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
HOOVER—Spain Park High School students dove into physics completing a buoyancy experiment at the Greystone YMCA pool on Sept. 17.
Jeff Johnson’s physics students applied their knowledge of Archimedes’ principal to construct boats out of cardboard. They then tested their designs at the Greystone YMCA pool.
Students launched their cardboard boat designs into the water and attempted to navigate their boats to the opposite side of the pool. Some designs were successful, while others were not, drenching their skippers while they paddled.
“They’re solving a real world problem,” Johnson said. “They’re seeing how large of a boat they have to make to float a person.”
The students were tasked with building a functional boat entirely from cardboard. Some of the largest challenges to overcome were finding the center of balance and waterproofing the cardboard so it would stay afloat, students said.
“We made a lot of designs, but a lot of them were very ambitious,” student Chris Breaux said.
“It doesn’t take too much to float someone,” student Crawford Nakayama added.
Johnson was inspired to try the cardboard boat experiment after seeing other buoyancy experiments using small paper boats.
“It was a really fun way to study fluids and buoyancy,” student Quinton Hoffman said.
Johnson’s class takes a very hands-on approach to learning physics. In addition to classroom lessons, the students complete a variety of large experiments. Later this year, the class will partner with the school’s anatomy class to construct working biceps.
“We try to do project-based learning,” Johnson said. “It’s play. Just applied play in a classroom setting.”