Creative Projects 2011

Nick Laba and Schaffer Orchstein

We built a box that simulates a tornado when dry ice sublimes in warm water filling the Plexiglas box with the smoke. A fan pulls the smoke out of the top of the box in the form of a vortex thus forming a tornado-in-a-box. The box was built by measuring a 12”x12” wooden base then sheets of Plexiglas 11” wide and 2’ tall, the Plexiglas was placed a half inch short of the corner of the wooden bases, so that excess dry ice reactant would be a able to escape and the box wouldn’t fill too much. We then wrote a 6 page research paper about how tornadoes are formed, their dangers and the ways in which they are measured.

David Schluckebier

My physics project covers heat transfer and how it can be used in everyday situations. In order to show this I took three computers and set up a demonstration. One of the computers had no heat sink. one had a heat sink but no thermal paste and one was put together correctly. The one that was put together properly ran perfectly and the ones that weren't, if left on long enough under load would have over heated and parts would have begun to fail. At the end of the demonstration none of the computers had failed yet but the two faulty ones were significantly hotter.
Link to PowerPoint

Charlie Albright and Shane Reddell

For our project, we decided to put a modern twist on a well-designed and deadly weapon: the blowgun. Used by many primitive hunters in South America and the jungle region of Africa, the blowgun was the prime choice for taking down large animals with poison-tipped ammunition. Jungle frogs such as the Poison Dart Frog, as the name suggests, were perfect for supplying this toxic venom. However, the weapon only works effectively if using this special poison. Since the weapon is powered by the hunter’s lungs, the gun only has enough puncturing power to stick just under the victim’s skin and inject the poison into the bloodstream. Without these highly toxic darts, the blowgun would hardy do any damage, and the victim would walk away with only a minor puncture wound. As a group, we found this lack of firepower completely unacceptable. If we were to supply the gun with a more powerful air supply, heavier ammo, and modern materials, we knew that the blowgun had the potential to become an extremely lethal and dangerous weapon, capable of puncturing deeply into a wide range of targets. After some careful planning and designing, long hours of building, and some artistic touch, the L.A.B.A cannon was born.

Link to data
Link to PowerPoint

Sarah Bass

For my project, I took Dante's Inferno and I turned it into Laba's Inferno: The Physics Journey Dante Left Untold. It tells the journey of Sarah the Honors Phyics Student and her journey through Hell in attempts to reach graduation. In the story, Mr. Laba leads her through the different circles of hell, where she sees different students from the past trapped forever and being punished for their physics sins (i.e. not labling graphs correctly, being late to class, sleeping in class, wearing illegal colored sweatshirts). Once Sarah has made it through all nine circles, she makes it to graduation in time!
Link to story

Kelsey Montgomery

For my project, I made a talkbox, which is an effects contraption used with an instrument such as the piano or the guitar. To make my talkbox, I used one side of a cheap pair of iPod speakers, a 3” PVC cap, vinyl tubing, and some wiring. Basically, the sound of the instrument goes into an amp head; this sound goes from the output of the amp head to an input jack on the talkbox; the sound comes out of the speaker cone from the iPod speaker, which is taped up at the top of the PVC cap, and into the vinyl tubing. You put the end of the tubing into the side of your mouth and shape the sound of the instrument as it comes out. The talkbox bypasses the vocal chords in producing sounds, and then the vocal chords are used to manipulate those frequencies. I used the equation for the speed of a wave, v = f* λ, where f is the frequency of a wave and λ is the wavelength, to determine what the frequency would be for certain notes as well as how long those wavelengths would be.

Tripp Russ

For my project I created an electromagnet on a circuit. I wired electrical wiring through the electromagnet and connected it through a switch on the circuit. I also wired a light through the circuit that indicates that the electricity is flowing when the switch is pressed down. I put battery holders on the bottom of the circuit and put in four ‘D’ batteries. However, I wired all the wires through the switch on the circuit, which means the circuit is not completed until the switch is pressed down. I created my own switch so that the electricity completely relies on the switch being pressed down. I presented this electromagnet by showing that the light obviously turns on when the switch is pressed down and the electromagnet’s works by showing that its magnetic field throws off a compass when the switch is pressed down and the electricity is flowing through the electromagnet. Overall my project was a success and I learned a lot about electricity and electromagnets.

Emily DeSantis

                For my project, I decided to create Mr. Laba’s final exam. I began by typing up a one-problem exam in the format of all out other tests, such as the font being in Courier New. Once I completed that I drew a really elaborate problem to go with the one question on the exam. The problem included ramps, friction, vectors, power, work, wheels, springs, projectiles, and free fall. Next I solved the problem and created an answer sheet to go with the test.

Jake Harvey

I have always wanted to build an autonomous robot that could follow me around school. I have always known that robots make great chick magnets, so I created and coded a robot that will follow the color green. I designed it to drag a “trailer” around for my books, so I nicknamed this fantastic little machine the “Student Assister.” Very creative, I know. The trailer is designed from a basket and two wheels positioned mid-way on both sides. I have a hitch on the front of the trailer to connect it to the robot. I designed the trailer to easily rotate when the robot moves. I used basically three while loops to make the robot drive straight when the largest green blob is right in front of him. When the green blob moves about 25 degrees to either side of the robot, the robot will turn until the green blob is back into the center. If robot doesn't find a green blob of any significance, it will pause for .5 seconds and then will recheck. I designed a wheel-well to minimalize friction between the “stoppers” on the wheel's axles and the side of the basket. Since the basket slants inward and the wheel is perpendicular to the ground, the stoppers grate against the metal plate, causing the wheel to stop and start with every spin. The axle slips through the wheel well which minimalizes the axle's circular movement and also allows the wheel to stay perpendicular and not rub the plate.

Calvin Lones

For my fourth quarter physics project, I have decided to construct and explain the function of a spectroscope.  Basically, a spectroscope is a device that takes light in and splits it into the visible spectrum(Red Orange…Violet).  The spectroscope is useful because every gas and source of light has its own unique code in the world of the spectroscope.  By using the spectroscope, scientists can tell what kind of elements are present to make the light. Modern spectroscopes are now run by computers and can now process the visible, UV, and near IR light spectrums.

Kira Witkin

Throughout the year, I found myself getting distracted when I worked Mr. Laba's physics problems. When I read about Kelsey working for CSI or a hunter shooting a monkey, I would immediately ask myself, "What mission is Kelsey on? Why on earth would a hunter want to kill a monkey? How does the monkey feel about that?" I blamed the intricacies of Mr. Laba's word problems for my distraction, but these thoughts were probably just my own way of procrastinating. For my physics project, what I formerly considered procrastination became fruitful. I looked back through some of my favorite test and homework problems and allowed myself to explore their back stories in poetic form. I tried different forms that I felt expressed the feelings of the narrator. For instance, my poem from the point of view of the monkey who is about to be shot is in free verse, reflecting his scattered mind as his life flashes before his eyes, but my poem about the burglar has an ABAB rhyming pattern to suggest his organization that is required to plan out such intricate crimes as the one he had just committed. Writing these poems gave me newfound appreciation for Mr. Laba's creativity in coming up with word problems. 

Kaitlyn Hansen

I based my project off the quote Mr. Laba has in front of the room: “it is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it" (Bronowski). I applied this ragamuffin irreverence to the concepts I had learned in physics this year, as well as in other classes, to a creative writing project. In my series of poems, I questioned and applied concepts like momentum, integrals, and acceleration to myself, and paired the writing with the actual notes I had taken in class about the ideas. The writing was more than creative, as I used the physical and mathematical principles behind the subjects to build arguments, and fully embrace what I'd learned by making it my own.

Paper Link

Devi Nair

My project was based off the show Mythbusters. I took myths that either I just wanted to solve or myths that had already been on the show, and I then used physics equations from class to “confirm” or “bust” the myths.
            Then I took the idea of cartoon physics (how cartoons don’t follow the laws of physics) and by using equations I busted how and why a lot of the things we see in cartoons could never happen. For example, in a lot of cartoons you will see someone run off a cliff and keep running in the air. Only later do they realize that they are not on the cliff anymore, and then they fall to the earth. I also proved that that the prince could not climb up Rapunzel’s hair, because if he did her neck would snap, and that Dumbo can’t fly.

Don Buchholz and William Ruppert

 For our project we knew we wanted to make something that shot, so we designed a creative version of the potato cannon. Instead of shooting potatoes however, our gun shoots out four pieces of wood interconnected by a rope. To begin building we went to Lowes and bought a four inch diameter pvc pipe along with two once inch and one two inch pvc pipes. The four inch pvc pipe is our combustion chamber where all the forces that drive the gun are created. The two once inch diameter pvc pipes were cut in half and put at angles so as to shoot the wood at angles and to stretch the ropes length. The two inch diameter pvc pipe was put in the middle of the four pipes as a chamber to hold the rope. For the wood to be able to shoot out we had to make the explosion chamber air tight and to get maximum results we had to make sure the wood was a snug fit in the one inch pvc pipes. For this we simply bought a dowel rod and cut it into four two inch pieces of wood. To make the chamber airtight we put covers on both ends of the four inch pvc pipe, but to access the chamber we had to have one end that had a removable part. To shoot the gun, just like a potato cannon, we spray hairspray in for a three to six seconds and then create a spark with our igniter. Our igniter was a barbecue igniter attached to two screws inside the explosion chamber which the spark could arc between, thus igniting the gun. With this, the hairspray explodes and the great discrepancy in air pressure between the inside of the chamber and the air outside forces the wood out of the pvc pipe. When the wood is shot out of the pvc pipe the rope is stretched out and therefore able to wrap around an object such as an animal or tree.


Bruno Harvey

For my physics project, I built a remote controlled nerf turret. I decided on it mostly because of the sheer awesomness the idea presented; it's a nerf gun that turns and fires without having to touch it. You cannot deny its awe-inspiring prowress. All of the servos I used to make it where generously donated from the robotics team. The arduino mico-controller I got from my Advanced Computer Science class where we were using it for various projects. The IR sensor I ordered online. Probably, the hardest part of this project was figuring out how to wire everything together to make it work. For instance, since V = IR and the I of the sensor is .35 mA and the Arduino outputs a voltage of 5V, I had to add resistance to circuit. However, none of resistors I had were the right value, so I ended up adding a lot of them in a series to get the correct resistance. One problem I had was that the servo controlling the vertical movement wasn't really strong enough. I semi-fixed that problem by adding rubber bands but a stronger servo would have been a better fix. Also, the gun started tilting on its base. I fixed that problem through the generous use of zip ties. Even after all this work, the motors that came with the gun died the morning of the project, so Project: Nerf Turret did not succeed.

John Robert Teeter

For my project, I devised a Gaussian (Gauss) Gun out of five 9/16” neodymium magnet cubes, 16 .529” steel ball bearings, and a plastic channel that I constructed. I connected 3 of the balls to each magnet, and used one ball to start the gun. When I nudge one ball down the channel, it is caught by the magnetic field and pulled quickly to the first magnet and collides with it. Because “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” the energy from the first ball is transferred through the magnet, through the steel ball bearings, and the last ball shoots off with a velocity close to the velocity of the ball that collided into the first magnet. That ball goes forward and is then caught in the next magnets magnetic field and the process repeats until the last ball is projected out of the channel and becomes a projectile.