Creative Projects 2010

Winston Riddick

I had two objectives in mind when setting out to create my project: to produce something that entertained Mr. Laba, while also satisfying the requisite of having some discernable relation to physics. The choice was obvious--PVC rocket projectile launcher with adjustable trajectory. I modified a simplistic design to allow for a detachable back panel where rockets could be loaded and attached to the alligator clips in the barrel, and a detonation panel that would send an electrical charge to an igniter in the rocket engine and ignite it. Then, I employed the help of Logan, a local simpleton who lives in a garbage can, that for some reason has access to a vast assortment of power tools; once assembled and thoroughly test for energy capacity, I equipped the launcher with a protactor and determine the maximum range at different angles of launcher elevation. After finalizing the design with a dedication to the overlord of physics, I strolled through the hallways, striking fear into the minds of women and children and flaunting the power of physics!!


Britani Bulloch

Shrek’s Wedding Cake
I love baking, so I decided to do my project based off of my passion. The only main Physics in cooking is Thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is the branch of physics devoted to the study of heat and related phenomena. The behavior of heat is governed by the three laws of thermodynamics: the total energy of an isolated system cannot change (law of conservation of energy,project); heat will not flow from a cold to a hot object spontaneously, it is impossible, in finite operations, to produce a temperature of absolute zero ( I made the batter from scratch, and then placed it in the oven. The magic of conduction occurred as the heat inside of the oven baked the cake. The outsides of the cake become hard, which solidifies the volume. The pressure inside the cake builds, and eventually is released through the top of the cake. This explains the cracks a person sees, when a confectionary treat is done baking. But the physics doesn’t stop there! After applying the icing to my wedding cake, gravity decided to make it into a mini-version of the leaning tower of Pisa: an edible leaning tower of Pisa.


Lindsey Osimiri & Nicholas Reimold

Nicholas and I decided to chronicle Mr. Laba’s life in two different formats. Firstly, I wrote a five-page essay about Mr. Laba’s life, from birth to future, including some true stories found in research. Then, Nicholas wrote an epic (a lengthy narrative poem), which meant converting my (nonfiction, of course) story to a rhymed format. Our presentation consisted of reading a short excerpt from both sections to the class, specifically the part of the story detailing Mr. Laba’s trip to see The Who in concert.
Later in adolescence, Jeff discovered The Who. They were awesome; they were famous; they were rock ‘n roll. When Jeff heard that they were playing nearby, he knew he had to go. Without a secondary thought, he jumped on the next train to New York City. The concert, of course, was a blast. Jeff bought a t-shirt and headbanged with the best of them, past ten, past eleven, even past midnight. Except what he forgot was that the last train back to Jersey left at midnight. And he had spent all of his money on his souvenir and his dinner, with none left to spare for a motel room or a taxi. So he wandered the streets of the Big Apple, searching for something, anything.

Music was his other thrill, but who would he adore,
Rock ‘n Roll was his jam, but he soon got into arguments with the bouncer:
Who is playing in this here concert?
The Who is Jammin in this shirt.
Hogely dogely he soon exclaimed,
His awesome T-shirt sure wasn’t to blame.
Nothing else was to be gained.
The clock struck 12:01,
The last train had departed without the one.
With all of his money gone,
Jeff was lost without a single pawn.

John Dunnam


For my project I focused on gyroscopes. Gyroscopes can act as artificial horizons for fighter jets and can be implemented in space craft in order to maintain a fixed direction, independent of the motion of a given body. Utilizing the conservation of angular momentum, gyroscopes will keep its orientation unless acted upon by a force which could be friction, heat, or air resistance. Angular momentum is a vector that has a direction and a magnitude. The precession of a gyroscope is the rotational motion of the axis of a spinning body that could be the wobbling of a top. I ended my project with everyone in the class making educated guesses about the gyroscope’s ability to “defy gravity”.

click here for project


Tyler Lee


For my fourth quarter project, I made an introduction to honors physics power point.  Throughout the year, I have always thought about my first day in physics and this has influenced how I looked at the year as a whole.  There have been good times and bad times.  The year as a whole has been quit hard and I have put in a lot of hard work and wanted to share this with all of the new incoming students.

click here for power point


Catherine Kline

For my project I decided to make a flute. Originally I decided to make the flute out of bamboo but it difficult to make a proper note so I made another flute out of PVC pipe. I used the equation l ƒ=v. I found that the mouthpiece of the flute was the first node of the sound wave and the end of the flute (or whichever uncovered hole was open closest to the mouthpiece) was the first antinode, meaning the distance was ½ of a sound wave. The speed of sound varies but on average it is about 340 m/s. By measuring the distance between the mouthpiece and the end of the flute, then the mouthpiece to each of the holes, I calculated the frequency (note) the flute would make. By plugging the distance I measured into the equation x=l/4 (x being the distance) I calculated l and put it into the equation ƒ=l/v. Unfortunately, I did not realize that I can’t actually play the flute until after it was completed however I did manage to play a few notes but never consistently. If anyone wants to make an instrument, I would recommend a string or percussion instrument. With a string instrument, it isn’t too difficult to make some kind of twang, and a percussion instrument will always work. Neither takes real skill to work unlike wind instruments like the flute.


Philip Wagley

For my project I constructed what I like to call my "skate surfer."  I built my own long board and then drilled the base of my windsurfing sail into the board.  From this my wind surfing sail was able to be easily attached to the board.  I choice to make a long board instead of a skate board because long boards were made to glide, being less effected by friction, which is what I needed to sail.  I could not simply buy a long board because it would be far too short.   After many failed attempts I was able to sail/skate.  Unlike a windsurfer where the sail generates the power and direction, when on the long board the sail only determined the power and the direction must be determined by shifting your weight.  Other problems laid in the sails over proportion to the board, and the long boards sensitivity to weight change.  After constructing and riding my "skate surfer," I decided to find the friction coefficient, acceleration, final velocity, force, and force per square foot of the sail.  I did this by making a few of my own mini labs.  I became much more knowledgeable of physics and how they apply to everyday life through this project while also getting the change to make something unique and fun.
Click Here to Watch Video


Elise Hansell

For my project I thought about all of the problems we worked this year and how crucial the element of time was for the majority of them. So I decided to make a sort of tribute to time with a drawing. In the center is a clock and beneath the roman numerals I listed the equations we've learned this year symbolizing the passing of time in Honors Physics. In the top right is a grandfather clock from Beauty and the Beast and next to it I have the equation we researched for the make-up lab showing how a pendulum works. The bottom right is the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland holding his pocket watch (similar to the one Mr. Laba carries), and across the poster I tried to show how a sundial works and supplied the equation for reading a horizontal sundial. To make a fun background I reworked approximately 30 homework questions...The title, "Time is the only constant" summarizes the idea of the poster, the passing of time (∆t) being the only thing that is really constant.


Sam Schooler

For my project I decided to incorporate The Lord of the Rings into the physics class and I created my own lord of the rings physics poster. I created “The Lord of the Physics Rings: The Return of the Homework”, and this poster is supposed to compare trying to turn in physics homework to Frodo trying to destroy the ring of power in Mordor (because both are equally difficult). In this poster I show:

  • Frodo holding up a physics homework assignment surrounded in light, to show the significance of a completed homework assignment.
  • All also have “The Eye of Laba” instead of the Eye of Saroman, and he has his fiery gaze upon Frodo holding the homework
  • I have Gandalf battling the swinging monkey holding the banana – to signify that Gandalf is trying to fight through the difficult physics problems to help Frodo turn in his homework
  • I also have Elrond with physics equations behind him—just as Elrond assisted Frodo with the formation of the Fellowship without actually giving him direct help, Elrond in this poster is giving the equations (so he is kind of like the website)
  • I have Golem in the corner of the movie poster, working on the homework. Golem is supposed to show how the process of trying to complete physics homework can often transform you into a golem, both because the homework takes forever and because it is stressful.
  • I also have the “physics” ring in the center of the poser which reads this poem: “Three Laws to rule them all, One ring to bind them. One teacher to bring them all, And in sleeplessness bind them”. The laws are Newtons three laws, the teacher is Mr. Laba, and the sleeplessness refers to the students .


Drake Greene, Mandy Martin and Henry Spellings

We made a video that displays a typical day in the Mr. Laba's class. We incorporated as many of the common "Laba-phrases" as we could think of. Drake, the master at impersonations, played the role of Mr. Laba while Henry and Mandy acted as normal students. We decided to not stop there but instead incorporate more physics based material into our project as well. Thus, we made a four foot Ruben's Tube out of a PVC pipe. Along the top of the pipe, we cut holes, each about half an inch apart from another. One end of the pipe was connected to a speaker and the other was capped off. In the middle of the tube, a wire connected the tube to a propane gas tank. When music played out of the speakers, the flames come out of the holes in the pipe at different wavelengths that correspond to audio frequencies. We tested the Ruben's Tube with many different songs to see the different wavelengths of the flames with each, and we incorporated this into our movie as well.
Click Here to Watch Video

Sam Cheatham

The trebuchet uses the gravitational potential energy of the mass in the basket to propel the long arm to launch the projectile within the sling. The gravitational potential energy is transformed into kinetic potential energy. Centripetal force keeps the weight in the sling while rotating. A dowel protruding from the long arm is angled at about one hundred twenty degrees. During a certain point in flight, the loose loop around the dowel attached to the sling holding the projectile, falls off the dowel allowing the projectile to take flight. The ballista uses elastic potential energy and then transforms the elastic potential energy from the ropes or in my case, strings and rubber bands into kinetic energy which propels the projectile along its track and into the air. The distance of the projectile can be calculated by obtaining the projectile’s initial velocity, a little bit of trigonometry, and the coefficient of kinetic friction on the ground.


Weston Barker


After numerous brilliant ideas, I settled on web-design as my creative outlet of choice for two reasons: it’s free (redesigning the formula posters, for example, would have been financially unsound) and the website needed it (we can all agree on that one).
Thus, the egg of an idea was born. Complications soon arrived, however, mostly in the form of logistics. Oh, the dances we dance. Transferring files from server to server, obtaining code for the “Grades” portion of the site, making sure Mr. Laba could edit the page (were he to choose to use the design) – all these problems came, they were seen, and they were conquered. Luckily, this project only necessitated a finished product, which is what was presented in class. The other logistical issues of transferring pages, refining code, etc., I decided, were secondary, and could be completed after-the-fact.
Overall, I believe both my strongly minimalistic design and Mr. Laba’s own love of purple (which pairs quite nicely with a dark shade of grey, I found) play very well off each other. It’s visually pleasing (a vast improvement), incredibly functional, and, in the great words of Apple, “magical.”


Bethany Berg

For my project, I made researched the history of parachutes including the different shapes and materials because I’ve always wanted to try skydiving but have never wanted to trust my life on a few dozen strings and square meters of nylon. However, I made three identical parasheets (parachutes that lay flat) from canvas, silk, and nylon to show how much more efficient the materials have gotten over time. I also made several models of Leonardo Da Vinci’s parachute design with the wood framework, a traditional circular parachute, and a rectangular paneled parachute.  I discovered the physics of the parachutes by finding different aspects like the average velocity for each, the acceleration, and drag force.

Click Here for Data
Click Here for Paper


William Meier

Boomerangs are ancient hunting weapon, and are considered the first “flying-machine” heavier than air. Contrary to popular belief, the Boomerang was not first invented in Australia, though some boomerangs there date back 10,000 years. The first boomerangs were created in Poland as an advancement of the throwing stick, dating back about 30,000 years ago. There are two types of boomerangs, ones that return ones that don’t, and this affects their body shapes greatly. A hunting boomerang is generally heavier and not as curved, because it is intended to hit its target, break its leg and fall to the ground. A returning boomerang is not used traditionally in hunting and therefore the body shape is quite different. It is significantly lighter and curved more so that the angle can form unique physics properties as the blade turns in a circular path. Also the “wings” or blades of the boomerang are tapered to simulate the wing of an airplane so that it can create lift. These tapered edges are both facing in the same direction, so that when the boomerang is spinning, there is always a “wing” to create the necessary amount of lift to allow the physics to work.

Timothy Rooney and Allison Bishop

In this project, Timothy and Allison explored the physics of an everyday park. They used the swings, the monkey bars, and multiple slide. Then they documented their experience at the park using film. Afterwards, they determined that centripetal force, gravity, normal force, and friction are the primary physics concepts that are utilized in park activities. The swings depend on centripetal force. The monkey bars depend on gravity. The slides depend on gravity and friction, using normal force. Through this project, these two students discovered the physics of the park and that the fun experiences of our childhoods depend on Newtonian physics to work. A surprise right?
Click Here to Watch Video

click here to watch movie


Ted Guevel

For my project I built two types of two different launchers. The first type was pneumatic—meaning it was powered by air compressed into a chamber. To operate this one, a person must use a bike pump to pressurize the chamber and then release the air all at the same time by turning a valve. The next type was a combustion—powered by a flammable gas, like hairspray, that is ignited. To operate the combustion launcher one must fill the chamber with a flammable gas, screw the lid on to seal the container, and then click the sparker to ignite it. I built two of each to show that they can be made efficiently with PVC as well as made with homemade materials. For ammo, you can launch whatever fits in the barrel!

Matthew Porter

For my project, I wanted to see how drag and lift affected my indoor plane. I built a wind tunnel out of plywood, acrylic, and a fan to experiment with the plane’s aerodynamics. I used force measures connected to a string and a system of pulleys to a force measurer to see the force of the lift and the drag. I plugged in the force amount of drag to the equation (Force of Drag = ½pv2CdA), and tried to find the drag coefficient, Cd in the equation, of the plane. I found the area of the plane by finding the cross section of the wings and fuselage, and the velocity by measuring how quickly a trail of smoke coming out of the fan travelled one meter, since the speed of the air is theoretically the speed that the plane would be travelling if it were flying.

Plane’s mass: 15 grams = .0015 kg
Smoke’s speed (v): 1 meter / .4 seconds = 2.5m/s
Force of Drag (Fd): 1 N
Force of Lift: .5 N
Cross Section (Area of the Wings, A): .00192 m2
Density of Air (p): 1.2kg/m3

Using the information above, I found that

Cd = Force of Drag / ½pv2A
Cd = 1 / (.5 x 1.2 x 6.25 x .00192)
Cd = .0072


Kimberly Taylor

I created an index of terms for the class with diagrams, equations, and pictures to give a somewhat brief overview of the class. I started from the beginning with vectors in chapter one up through the latest lesson in chapter six involving elastic and inelastic collisions. Not only are there terms from the book in this index, but also there are a few terms about the class as well. I had this idea when I wanted some of the main information from the chapters written down in one central location including the various formulas. I included pictures in the index to make the serious parts of the index more comical.

click here for index

Jon Paul Temple

I wanted to build a trebuchet because it was the pinnacle of siege warfare and based on concepts that we learned in physics class. I spend around 5 hours constructing the trebuchet and around 45 minutes do the theoretical values. I was trying to have at least a 5 kilogram counterweight to let the object thrown be as heavy as possible. Unfortunately I build the support structure with a gap of 4 inches, far too little to be able to construct a 5 kilogram counterweight. So I settled on a D battery. As for the relationship to physics, a trebuchet incorporates a number of concepts.  The connections I saw was two dimensional motion (after the projectile is released), kinetic energy (to figure out how much energy the counterweight transfers to the projectile as a result of gravity, and momentum (to discover the momentum of the projectile at impact with another object. I built a trebuchet because I think they are really cool and the core concepts were things we had already learned in class so I thought I could build on them. Unfortunately I underestimated the difficulty of constructing a model working trebuchet.

Grant Fitts


At the onset of this project, I tried to pick a subject that would appeal to my own experiences. As someone who attended the Lower School from beginner, I was immediately intrigued by the way the old playground worked, and I decided to test some of the contraptions and areas that I used to play on in my childhood. When I looked around the playground, I saw that there were many slides and contraptions like the spinning wheel that incorporated equations that we have studied throughout the year, such as angular motion and acceleration due to gravity and 2D motion. I was influenced by the Six Flags lab, and I decided to incorporate the swing and the use of mgh to determine velocities and loops just as we did in the lab to determine differences.  I saw use of trigonometry as well in the handrail and tricycle hill, and this goes all the way back to the first few weeks of school. I felt comfortable with the topic as I was very familiar with the math involved and I am glad that I chose a project that really turned out to be fun to work on. I feel that this was a better strategy because by having fun with the project I eased my stress and felt more inclined to do the necessary amount of work that I needed to put into this project.

Click for Power Point


Bre’Shard Busby

For my project, I decided to create an extra chapter in Flatland. To create the chapter, I had to reread some of the chapters in the book to remind myself of some of the main concepts, such as how the Square's journey through Lineland and Pointland. The setting of the chapter that I created takes place after the seven years that the Square was in prison for trying to teach the Gospel of the Third Dimension. To further develop the plot of my chapter, I had to do some research on the Fourth Dimension and some of the shapes that exist within that dimension. I was already familiar with early interpretations of the fourth diimension as time, so I decided to incorporate time travel in my chapter. However, through further research, I found that in modern physics, time is no longer considered the fourth dimension, but in respect to the time travel concept in the story, I decided to keep the former interpretation as time. I already knew that I wanted to incorporate a tesseract in my chapter, so it was pretty convenient when I found out that a tesseract was a fourth-dimensional figure.

Click Here for Story

Connor Hecksel

Non-Newtonian Fluids

            For my project, I decided to create a homemade non-newtonian fluid using cornstarch and water. This type of fluid is more specifically called a dilatant fluid. A dilatant fluid is a fluid that undergoes an increase in viscosity when exposed to force. This increased viscosity is caused at high enough velocities to cause the lubricating liquid in which particles are suspended to no longer be able to fill the space between the particles. The suspended particles then rub against each other without lubrication, greatly increasing the force of friction and apparent viscosity. I used the formulae for the conservation of kinetic energy, gravitational potential energy, and energy of friction to show how the increased viscosity and friction affects the rate at which the fluid can move. When the mixture is exposed to a force, the kinetic energy changes as follows: ∆KE = mgh – Ffd. Since ∆KE = 1/2m(Vf2 – Vi2), the initial velocity is 0, and Vf2 = Vi2 + 2a∆y, the formula for the solution being poured a distance of 1 meter would be: 9.8m + ½(Vfx2) = 9.8m + 9.8mµ(d). From this, we can determine (Vfx2) = 19.6mµ, so the force of friction winds up being directly proportional to the amount of force exerted on the fluid at a √x rate. The practical applications for a dilatant fluid include: human blood, body armor, and high torque lubrication for terrain vehicles.