Creative Projects 2009


Tommy Sisson

Tommy Sisson researched the physics of golf. Originally setting out with the idea of encountering simple projectile motion and torque problems, he soon discovered that there were many more forces at work (pun?!). With this new knowledge, he wrote the educational and ispirational chapter six of his memoirs on the philosophy and physics of the sport.


Alice Kerr

The last question of every homework assignment has one simple instruction—“DECIPHER.”  The scrambled, convoluted sentences translate to idioms and other common phrases. And this is was the genesis of my project. I made my own deciphers, fifty of them, by taking a saying or idiom, amplifying its vocabulary and jumbling it beyond immediate recognition.  Then, I compiled the phrases into a booklet. (click to read booklet)



Julie Mirliss

For my project I made a wooden staircase representing a year in Honors Physics. Each step represented one aspect of our class. The top step is where you begin. The next step represented Physic's Homework, Tests, Labs, Projects, and Exams. Another step is dedicated to our end of the year trip to Six Flags. The last step is where you finish. I decorated the stairs with neon colored paper, and the step dedicated to Homework, Tests, Labs, and Projects, and Exams had a variety of Physics equations. The Six Flags step was decorated with various rides. I also researched the Physics of slinkies and used the staircase to test slinky size vs. speed.


Joshua Vahala

Fun with playing cards

I decided to attempt to find the force necessary to cut a banana with a playing card. I tested my card throwing skills at home and was able to cut completely through the fruity substance, so it was possible. All that remained was the task to find the force (and the torque and my average throwing velocity and a couple other things). The only way to find that force is to make a card guillotine, of course! And thus it started. Two six foot planks, a line cut down the middle of each, some things to keep the planks the correct distance apart, some tape, some washers (used to add mass to the card), and some gravity later, the dream of realized. I could stick--more like smush--a banana into the guillotine and drop the card from any distance. If it broke through, then the force was strong enough. If it didn't, then I needed more washers. It ended up needing four washers to cut entirely through (card was 2g and each washer approx. 12g), but 2 washers made it near halfway through. The four cut easily so the force was actually less than that trial, but I only had that size of washers. The velocity finding was easy enough; throwing a card and timing and measuring the flight isn't very difficult. The torque did not work out because my camera did not have a high enough frame rate and would not allow me to find the angular acceleration and therefore I couldnt find the force I hit the card with. But with all this fun, I tried to cut a banana in class. Thomas Sisson bravely suffered through my poor aim and took two cuts for the team (my third person to make bleed--cue roaring applause). The banana eventually tumbled in half in the way a tree would fall. I cut the top cleanly off twice before that.  


Hailey Arterburn

For my creative project, I wanted pursue something with an artistic nature. As a result, I created an art piece involving Mr. Laba in a humorous view. I made an acrylic painting of Mr. Laba and a diagram of his brain. The painting itself is a portrait of Mr. Laba. In the piece, I made an in-depth analysis of what sections of his brain are devoted to. In a humorous, yet “realistic” angle, I divided Mr. Laba’s brain so that half of it was “pleasure through students suffering,” and I also named a section as “love of the physics in ‘Ice Princess’” when in fact all the physics in the movie are inaccurate. For the remainder of the sections in Mr. Laba’s brain, I assigned different chapters and topics that the Honors Physics class has studied during the year. I also portrayed many of the equations that the class has learned during the year to be flowing out of his head. This painting of Mr. Laba sheds true light to nature of how Mr. Laba thinks.



Maura Riley

For my creative project, I wanted to do something writing-based, but didn’t want to do the Mr-Laba-goes-on-a-quest-and-learns-about-physics thing that students before me have done. So I created the first chapter of a sequel to Flatland, sort of merging two of the quarter projects. It was written from the sphere’s perspective years after the calamitous incidents in the final chapter of the original book about the sphere’s next attempt to bring the gospel of the third dimension to the inhabitants of Flatland. I re-read Flatland to be able to create something similar to it, and especially concentrated on how the sphere interacted with other characters. I decided he was self-important but determined, and tried to make that come through in my writing. The really difficult part was making the language sound as formal and reserved as Edwin A. Abbott’s writing, and I tried not to make the tone conversational in the least, even when there was a conversation going on. I inserted several Mr. Laba references, but the overall tone was pretty serious. (click to read story)


Logan Nickell, Nash Witkin, Troy Hall

Mark Twain once wrote that “heathens don’t amount to shucks alongside of pirates, to work a camp-meeting with” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). For our project we took this mentality to heart and set out to build a pirate ship. Originally, we built a 4 ft. by 6 ft. platform, which, when placed in water, promptly sank. So we went back to the drawing board and realized we needed four things for our pirate ship to be a true pirate ship. The following are Laba’s Laws of pirate ship building:

  1. Ye ship must float.
  2. Ye ship must be splendidly large.
  3. Ye ship must have a cannon.
  4. Ye ship must fly the pirate colors—a skull and cross bones flag.

            So, after filling all the holes in our ship with caulk (as well as adding Styrofoam on the bottom), doubling the size of our ship (which increased the surface area, allowing it to float better), attaching a potato cannon of monstrous proportions, and fixing a mast (it should be noted that no sail actually graces our mast—mast just sounds a lot better than flag pole) from which we flew a pirate flag, we had a pirate ship. To prove our worth as pirates we tested the potato cannon (it is actually a lime cannon, since it fires limes) that initially was successful, but due to cracks in the PVC cement holding it together, its power decreased significantly over time. Then we took our ship to the majestic Quarry and braved her perilous waters. Of course she, The Laba 1, fared so well that the Almighty Laba Himself climbed aboard and allowed us the pleasure of sailing Him around the Quarry. I would like to end with a prayer:
May your booties always be rich, your cannons always loaded, and your women (or men, if you are a woman pirate) always plentiful.



Sam Buchholz

For my project I built a trebuchet. I had never built one before and it looked like fun. Mine was very authentic until after I finished it, when I realized that I wanted it to be remote control. So I added the ability to be driven via remote. Now I can shoot rocks at amazingly high speeds from a distance!


Ross Terada