Students get #8216;physics-al#8217; on playground

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Kids and swings and slicky slides just naturally go together —

but what about adding physics into the mix?

St. Lawrence Elementary School sixth graders Monday got a hands-on lesson in physics, using their playground equipment as the focal point of the lesson.

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The education came compliments of St. Joseph High School seniors, under the guidance of math teacher Ruth Hopkins and science teacher Joan Simon.

Again this year, St. Joseph High School received a $1,500 grant from Dow Chemical that allowed the high school students to extend physics into the lower grades. The seniors combining the principles they’ve learned in class with up-close-and-personal experiments.

“We hope this helps them get a better understanding of math and physics concepts and what they’re actually doing when they’re playing on the playground,” St. Joseph senior Josh Riedel explained.

Last week, some students visited the carousel at the Ashland Town Center in Ashland, Ky., to study the laws of physics as they apply to the movement of the carousel. When they return from spring break, St. Joseph seniors will help seventh and eight grade students build a rollercoaster to test the principles of physics.

On Monday, with accelerometers in hand, sixth graders took to the swings and slides to test the effect of gravity on movement.

“I never thought about it,” Megan Fields said as she wooshed back and forth in the swing. Sixth-grade teacher Arnette Barker said she hoped this experiment changed that.

“I hope it gives them a different perspective when they’re out here playing. Anytime you can have hands-on experiences with science, it makes learning more fun,” she said. “It gets the interest of the students and helps them think. And anytime the students from St. Joe can come, they like that, too.”