Creative Projects 2007



Patrick Reese, Cody MacDonald, Colt Power

For our project we decided to build a ballista, which is an old Roman seige weapon.  It is essentially a massive crossbow powered by tightly coiled rope.  We learned that with strong enough building materials it is not very hard to create a lot of power with these rope coils.  However, effectively transferring the power into throwing an object is extremely difficult.  After our project broke once, we rebuilt it stronger and better, allowing it to launch a lacrosse ball nearly 30 yards in the right conditions.  Nonetheless, it was not as powerful as we would have hoped.


Travis Wilson and Bryan Powell

For our fourth quarter project we decided to build a medieval trebuchet. Using around five 2 x 4’s, some string, and netting, we created a slightly smaller scale trebuchet. We thought it would be cool to be able to launch stuff and learn about physics all at the same time. The trebuchet is a perfect example of a type 1 lever which in itself is a good example of torques and rotation. Supplying a counterweight on one end of the throwing arm and a small projectile on the other, rotating around a bar, we were able to see torques and rotation cause projectile motion.



Dallas Griffin

For my project and for personal fulfillment, I set out with some help to create a bungee jump in my backyard. I then used my knowledge of physics, specifically in energy, to determine the efficiency of the bungee by comparing the energy lost between the initial fall and the first bounce.


Carolyn Bird

I decided to build some water rockets. While I was researching on
the internet I found some interesting designs. One of my rockets was
designed to be a backslider water rocket that would be heavier near the
nossel of the bottle. Because of this, the rocket would not need a
parachute because when it would reach apogee it would slide back down and
not tip over like most rockets. The other rocket I built was a standard
bottle rocket with a parachute. When this bottle reaches apogee the nose
cone would fall off and the parachute would deploy. During ascent the only
thing holding the nose cone on was the force from the rapid expulsion of
water from the bottle. Once it reached apogee though nothing would hold
the nose on and so the parachute would deploy and bring the rocket safely
back to earth. In order to build up enough pressure to properly shoot the
rockets off, I used a bike pump. Around 70 psi, I would tell whoever was
pumping to stop and I would deploy the rocket by releasing the trigger.
The most effective water to air ratio was 1/3 water and 2/3 air. This
created almost the maximum height for the rockets.


Aubrey Alleman

In my project I attempted to explain the physics of gymnastics. I focused mainly on the vaulting mechanics of a front-handspring front, utilizing measurements obtained by evaluating a video of me doing this skill. Incorporating Newton’s three laws of motion, angular momentum, projectile motion, and moments of inertia, I was able to estimate the time I spent in the air, the amount of this time I spent rotating, the number of rotations I completed, the distance I traveled, and the maximum height I obtained. I also created a to-scale model of the front-handspring front vault along with several diagrams that divided the vault into four distinct periods. After showing the video of me completing the skill, I attempted to determine the angular velocity and angular momentum of the vault employing the moments of inertia for a tube and a sphere. To sum up my presentation I looked at each of Newton’s Laws individually, applying a giant swing on the high bar, a leap on the floor, and a handstand on the beam to the physics of motion.


Connor Nickell, Reed Duncan

Kitton Kannon
Two score plus one score and nineteen point nine years ago, the Honorable Chancellor Jeffrey Laba laid down some life-changing knowledge on my brain. I found that objects moving near the speed of light get larger. All of a sudden I had an epiphany. I realized that if a kitten was fired from cannon at this kind of velocity, we could potentially make the kitten grow into a full grown tiger (or lion). Thus, Reed Duncan and I embarked on a journey to build the Kitton Kannon. All the small cats and kittens came to aid us in our noble attempt at constructing the cannon. PVC pipe was selected to be the material for the barrel and chemical chamber. The chemical chamber at the back had a barbeque igniter in it. Two needles were drilled in opposite ends of the diameter of the chemical chamber, and inside the cannon they were fixed where they almost touched. The ignitor had wires attached to either needle. We used a potato as the platform to launch he kitten. By this, I mean that we would force a potato down the barrel in order to make it air tight and then place a kitten in the barrel ready to be hit by the potato and go flying. We filled the chemical chamber with hairspray (Treseme) and then quickly shut it. After this we quickly pressed the igniter, and a spark created by the needles lit the chemical gas on fire, making it rapidly expand. After this, the pressure builds up so high that it forces the potato out at high speed, and consequentially sending the kitten to become an adult. Our cannon was adorned with shag rug and spray painted with kitten paws and projectile equations. Over time we learned that the optimum way to fire the cannon was to push the potato in and leave it at the top of the barrel, and then spray hairspray into the chemical chamber. Then we pushed the potato down to create a lot of pressure in the chamber, and this gave us the most consistent and farthest launches.


Evan Balch
For my project I decided to describe the motion, and some of the other properties of physics involved in fighting and martial arts. I have some experience in the field of martial arts so the concept of studying the physical nature of some of the movements seemed like it would be interesting. I composed a PowerPoint presentation that discussed some of the concepts of motion, conservation of momentum, and forces involved in breaking boards. I researched the mass and speed of the human arm, to find the force that the human arm can produce. For my finale I broke some boards with my hand to demonstrate the forces explained in my PowerPoint. Much of the class believes that I summoned a lightning strike when the boards broke, but I think it was just the flash from Mr. Laba’s camera.


John Wheeler
I thought I would try to do something that probably has never been done for the 4th quarter project: create a physics video game. My game is basically a day in the life of Mr. Laba where you attempt to teach your students (by shooting them with knowledge) and you must dodge tiredness (zzz's) and stupidity (?'s). There are three levels of progressing difficulty, but overall the game is not too challenging. There is a slight glitch due to transferring of information between the program that I used to create the game, Macromedia Flash, and the program that it was published on which makes the directions actually wrong. Where it says "push enter to play" you actually have to press the up arrow. Anyway I hope you enjoy the game and you can play it now if you would like too by going to , clicking John on the side bar and then clicking  Labaland at the top. Good Luck!

Program:   Version 1                           Version 2