Launching into physics


Photo provided by: Faith Shimick

Junior Elijah Huyck prepares to launch a marble into a cup during Stephen McGovern’s fourth period AP Physics class. “Basically, this lab was a real world application of the formulas we were learning in this class,” Huyck said. “The goal was to use the formulas we had learned to predict the outcome of a real world scenario.”

Faith Shimick, Staff Reporter

The time has come for Stephen McGovern’s AP Physics classes’ first real lab. The experiment is all about projectile motion, which means it is time to bring out the marble launchers. Students must figure out how far away to place a cup, so that it catches the  marble when it is launched.

The experiment, which took place on Sept. 25,  requires many calculations, and if one step is wrong, then the results of the lab will likely be inaccurate. Projectile motion has a lot of different variables, so it is easy to mess up if one of those variables are incorrectly measured.

“It’s just a lot of equations and you had to put the outputs of equations into other equations,” junior Elijah Huyck said. “Basically, if one thing is off then all your other stuff is just totally wrong.”

The lab not only serves as practice with the complicated equations in physics, but also as an introduction into thinking outside the box. These skills are necessary to have for the AP exam at the end of the year, where students are asked to design their own experiment on the free response section.

“The point of this lab was to determine how far an object could go, but more importantly, for AP, there’s experimental design and you must think about how to design an experiment and how to gather results,” McGovern said. “That’s kind of been lost in science, so this was to have students, you all, actually think of a way using the concepts you learned in class to come to the conclusion.”

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