A wild-haired, white-lab-coated professor, rockets screaming through the gym, balls rolling down inclined planes, explosions, fires, clay balls flying through the air. It could only be the annual Viewmont High physics assembly.
In the schoolwide gathering Wednesday, the student body learned that physics is raucous, loud, dramatic and irreverent, as Steve Jackson's physics students demonstrated various principles through colorful demonstrations and contests.Most of the contests, conducted between seniors and juniors (the seniors won), comprised various ways of exploding balloons filled with a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen alone simply burns when ignited, but balloons filled with the mixture exploded with BOOMS that made even high school students jaded with high-volume rock music grateful for the earplugs passed out at the beginning.
Balloons were exploded with flaming darts dropped onto them, flaming darts shot from spring-loaded guns, flaming darts sliding down sloping ramps. All of the different launching movements, Jackson was careful to point out, were analytically calculated in physics classes beforehand.
Other demonstrations illustrated angular momentum by throwing clay balls onto a target to get it to spin around; Bernoulli's Principle by trapping light bulbs in a stream of moving air and guiding it through hoops; components of light by combining the primary colors (red, blue and green) to make different colors; and Faraday's Law by making a wire coil flip through a magnet.
At one point, five students were asked to come and hold hands while those on the ends held terminals connected to a coil going through the magnet. The magnet/coil arrangement created electricity, and the students formed a circuit, with shocking results.
Five physics students calling themselves the "Logorythms" sang "The Yellow Rose of Texas" while holding large lenses in front of them magnifying their faces 20 times. They then held up signs asking their selected girls to the dance.
As two students unsuccessfully tried to get a basketball through a hoop while both of them were moving down different inclined planes, Jackson observed, "It depends on the angle, depends on the distance. If they're not spastic, it can be done."
The students cheered and jeered as if they were at a basketball game. Clearly, physics was far from the stereotypical, esoteric realm of calculator-carrying long-hairs for them.
Some students go out to breakfast during assemblies, but "most of them don't for this assembly," said physics student Seth Allen.