By Monica Song
Pine cones, ping pong balls, and Ticonderoga pencils. Walk into Mrs. Walsh’s room and at the end of every table, you’ll see precisely balanced mobiles consisting of a wonderful miscellany of objects.
During the first week of February, the AP Physics class combined science with art in one of the most creative projects of the year. To demonstrate the principles of static equilibrium, students built mobiles out of rods, string, and various small objects.
Seniors, either alone or in pairs, brainstormed ideas to showcase the concepts taught in the unit. Equipped with rulers and gram balances, they weighed the individual parts of their projects and drew up detailed blueprints of their ideas.
The class spent blocks of instruction time taping, tying, and gluing everything together. Once all the components had been attached, students meticulously adjusted their mobiles until the arms remained horizontal. The most important thing to keep in mind, as many could affirm, was to keep everything suspended in perfect balance.
With their knowledge of tension, gravity, and torsion, students also calculated the net forces and torques on each arm to confirm that the system was in equilibrium.
Mrs. Walsh commented on the diversity of projects this year.
“Some were bad, some were good, but overall, I saw a lot of creativity. It was a great opportunity for students to visualize how the torque was balanced on each arm.”
Overall, the mobiles were a success. Markus Klemm (12), who had been looking forward to the project, summed up the project well.
“The planning and the construction were fun. The math part-- not quite as fun, but it was all great in the end," Markus said.
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