Creative Projects 2001

Jason Boullioun and Ben Chien – Hovercraft

In order to construct the hovercraft, we took a piece of plywood and sawed it into a circle with a radius of about 2 feet.  We then took a tarp and covered the wood (now circular) on all sides about 2 inches into it.  In order to provide a place to put the leaf blower, we used a jigsaw and a drill to make a hole that was shaped similar to the exhaust of the wind blower.  After sanding the wood, duct tape was then placed all across the wood and then over the tarp.  Although it looked secure, it became necessary as we tested it several times to use a staple gun instead of merely duct tape to secure the tarp to the wood.  Once these two parts were fastened together, a Frisbee was nailed to the bottom of the wood to create an air pocket and a hard surface for the craft to rest on.  The leaf blower then could be set in place, whereupon the air would be blown at 195 miles per hour, causing the craft to levitate.  Although it levitated, once someone sat on it, it was off centered; this was remedied by tearing holes into the bottom of the tarp to direct the flow of the air to the center.  When the holes were properly positioned, the craft levitated and was able to slide with the aid of a force (push or pull).  The following equations were considered:Total mass: 77.2 + 7.8 = 85 kg . We concluded the project by coming up with an equation that we thought would give us the coefficient of friction: m = (Fp – ma)/mg
jason and ben

Ashley Carter – Psychic Monkey Game

The Psychic Monkey is a board game that was made to test the skills of physics students and adults. The game consists of a board, one dice, 4 colored monkey playing pieces, and 30 physics questions (15 of those questions being mathematical, and the other 15 conceptual). The goal of the game is to guide the psychic monkey through the forest and get him to the bananas before any of the other monkeys. This is done by rolling the dice and moving the monkey the number of spots indicated on the dice. If your monkey lands on a white space, then he is safe for the moment. If he lands on a red space, the player must answer a question off of one of the red cards (mathematical questions). If he lands on a blue space, the player must answer a question off of one of the blue cards (the conceptual questions). If the player answers the question correctly, he may move ahead one space. If he answers incorrectly, he must move backwards one space. The winner is the player who either lands on the last blue space and answers that question correctly, or the player who rolls a high enough number on his/her dice to move past the final blue space.

Julia Collins – Formula Word Search and Crossword Puzzle

Who says physics isn’t all fun and Games?
I decided to create a crossword puzzle and formula search to mimic the cliché about  some thing being all fun and games. This usually implies the opposite meaning, but you may read  into it  what you will. My purpose was to create something that is all fun and games and still has to do with physics, and hopefully I succeeded in doing this. Of the two, the formula search was much more fun to create, because I was able to use all sorts of symbols to create absolute confusion ( a feeling often found in physics). For both, I began with the formulas, words and clues I wanted to use and then began to place them in graph paper. Later I made a clean version with a simple erasable grid.

Click here for larger version.


Click here for larger version.

OJ DeSouza, Patrick Fitzgerald and Xavier Sagnieres – Roller Coaster

We did a “roller coaster” where a small metal ball rolled down a plastic tube. We constructed it so it fell from the top of the balcony and ended up doing several loops and then it came out of the end of the tube flying across the room, aimed at Claire Gordon. But due to friction the final velocity wasn’t as high as expected. Therefore the ball touched the ground within 2 feet.  We had to use metal pipes to make the tube more like a tube because it flattened together. We first thought about making a roller coaster of wires; however, the wires weren’t straight enough to keep the width of the roller coaster constant so the ball would fall through the wider places. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way of fixing this problem with our materials so we scratched all the work we did (which was a whole weekends worth) and get a plastic tube and make it work.
patrick oj and xavier

Claire Gordon – Physics Train
For my physics project, I decided to make a train of Physics.  To make the train itself, I got 6 pieces of dollhouse furniture.  I removed the legs are decorations on each piece of dollhouse furniture.  I attached wheels to each “cart” be creating a long prism out of Popsicle sticks and gluing two prisms to every cart.  Wooden wheels were attached to axels, and the axels were pushed into the prisms.  At each far end of the cart a hook or a loop was attached so that the train carts held together.  I created an engine out of out an empty paint can and wood of different thicknesses.  I used a piece of a spring contraption for the funnel, and I attached the spring to the top of the funnel to look like smoke.  On each cart I put a contraption relating to physics.  In the engine of the train I put a chessboard, which relates to a vector problem that my physics class did for homework.  On top of the engine I put a weather van that shows centripetal force.  In the second cart I put some mud and stones to resemble coal.  On the third cart, I put a swing.  On the second and third carts I put a projectile motion and freefall apparatus.  On the fourth cart I put a cradle to show momentum, and on the last cart I put a see saw to resemble torque.  Inside each cart I put physics equations relating to the apparatus on top.  I also decorated each cart with figurines I made from modeling clay.
CG & train 0401


Sondra Munves and Kristen Novak – Physics Word Search

For our creative project we built a large physics word search for the class to solve.  We created it with two large foam boards attached together with cork on top.  We used to cork in hopes of creating a bulletin type of board for Mr. Laba’s classroom, that he might even use.  We spray painted the whole thing white so that the letters, created with sponge lettering and acrylic paint, would show up well.  We used black electric tape for the grid.  We gave the class clues for the words we selected, which were vocabulary terms that we learned throughout the course, as opposed to just handing out a list of words to look for.  When each person found their designated word(s) we gave them a prize (candy).  Accompanying our project we integrated a few things that we learned from doing this project and from the class in general.  We felt this tied everything in quite well.
sondra and kristen
Click here for paper version of word search.


Chris Naifeh – Model Rocketry
For my physics project I decided to re-explore an old hobby of mine.  I used to build rockets on a weekly basis.  In fact, I had just about every tool to aid me in the building of all kinds of different rockets.  Having learned a substantial amount in Honors Physics, I decided to explore some of my favorite topics through the building of rockets.  Using the given forces on the rocket engine cartridges I could approximate the distance for the flight of my rockets.  Using the sum of the forces I could first find acceleration, and from there I could use some of my equations of free fall motion to approximate the distance.  Therefore, I would start with SF=ma and solve for “a” (acceleration). I would also have to time the flight in order to properly make use of my equations of motion.  Then I would use Dx = Vi t + ½(atxt) to find my distance.

Catherine Neal and Jon Nylund – Friction Measuring Device
This contraption is a modified “lazy susan.”  The drill beneath the flat surface was used to rotate the “lazy susan” at a constant speed.  A brick was placed at different distances from the center and was then substituted into the equation:
m= (4p2r)/gt2 . 
This equation would determine the m and therefore the force of friction (this is also the centripetal force caused by the rotation of the object). Four different m’s were found for the four different surfaces: rough sandpaper, smooth sandpaper, wood, and plexi-glass.  This experiment can be applied on a larger scale for something like a merry-go-round.  Friction is the only force keeping a child on the merry-go-round as it spins.
catherine and jon

Adam Ratner and Doug McCafferty – Video
When Mr. Laba presented us with the opportunity to do a creative project for the class, we immediately began to brainstorm ideas to put onto film.  At first we ran into difficulty trying to incorporate physical concepts into a conventional screenplay; we went through several drafts until we decided to go ahead with the Adocumentary@ type approach.  Shooting over several days, we wound up with over forty minutes of raw footage; through close to seven hours of extensive digital editing, we came through with our final draft, a very silly and slightly educational twelve and a half minute production.  Premiering on May 8th, 2001, APhysics Stuff with Doug and Adam@ began its wonderful quest, to bring humor and knowledge to future generations, and to offend a great number in its process.  Once again, we would like to remind you that no animals (plural) were hurt in the making of this picture.  We present to you, internet user, a film for the easily entertained, APhysics Stuff with Doug and Adam@!!!      

Eric Ruben and Matt Fairchild – Shuffle Board

We built a shuffleboard table. Like the game, building it was more difficult than it looks. A piece of pine-wood was nailed to a piece of plywood. After unsuccessfully trying to nail the siding to the plywood base, we decided to use carpenter’s grade superglue. After applying the superglue, we were bewildered by its weak strength and inability to hold the pieces of wood together. Leaving it overnight, the glue gained strength and the siding was now attached well. But, we had super-glued the project to the floor of Matt’s garage! Using a pie cutter and a hammer we were able to get the project unstuck from the floor. After applying electrical tapes to make scoring lines, and putting stickers on to denote the scores, we began to play. Getting to play with our project was a lot more fun than expected, so despite the time and money devoted to the project, it was an enjoyable experience.
matt and eric

Leanna Sudhof – Mr. Laba Marionette

            I was in my room trying to decide on what to do for my physics project when I saw my marionette hanging from the shelf.  I decided to make a marionette and to make it look like Mr. Laba as a connection to our physics class and for laughs.  I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be creative and to do something unlike the normal schoolwork.
First I made the limbs out of wood dowels: 2 thighs, 2 shins, 2 upper arms, 2 lower arms, 1 backbone, shoulders, and hips.  I connected the wooden parts with leather strips; the shoulders and hips I attached to the backbone with wire (they wouldn't move).  I emphasized the hands and feet and made the legs longer for a better effect.  The head, feet, and hands I made from old socks.  I tied string around the socks to shape them.  The hands and head I covered with tan cloth.  I looked at a book on how to make dolls to know where to put the strings around the head to make the indentations of the eyes, chin, and nape of the neck.  With the skeleton of the doll done, I started sewing the clothes by hand.  I sewed some stuffing to the clothes for the butt and shoulders.  I took loops of yarn and sewed them to the crown of the head for the hair.  Some of the lower strands I sewed to the lower head so that Mr. Laba wouldn't be bald but would still have bouncy hair.  I added the wire glasses covered with black electric tape, the wire chain, and the tie to make the doll more Laba-esque.  When the doll was done, I made the "control" board by drilling holes into a thin piece of wood.  I tied or sewed the almost invisible fishing line to the feet, hands, knees, head, neck, and butt so that the legs could go forwards and backwards and the arms could go backwards, sideways, and forwards.  The strings on the neck, head, and butt were more structural and carried most of the doll's weight.  It took a lot of adjusting to get the lengths of the strings right.  I tied little sticks from my backyard to the string so it wouldn't go back down through the hole. 
My handmade marionette is much more complex than the one hanging in my room.  I used the doll book for making some of the head, and my friend suggested using dowels and leather strips.  All the rest I had to figure out by trial and error.  It's nice that the only things I had to pay for were the dowels.  In all, I think I spent 25-30 hours on this project. 



Sarah Thomas and Alex Mullins – Swing Set
Alex Mullins and Sarah Thomas built a swing set for their creative project for the fourth quarter in Honors Physics.  They started with two angled side beams and a cross beam with braces.  Then extra support was added by adding angled supports to both sides of the crossbeam.  The structure of the swing set closely represents the structure of the truss system on a bridge by redistributing the force at the center of the angled beams to the tops and bottoms.  Then they calculated the tension in the swing chains and found the centripetal force and the centripetal acceleration.  The swing set amazingly held two human beings and one Doug McCafferty going crazy.  The project was a lot of work but the two girls were quite pleased with the way that it turned out since they built it from scratch.  The finished project not only taught them a lot of lessons about physics, but also was a great experience for them. 

alex and sarah

David Willems – Video