Practical lab demonstrations hit bulls-eye
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Written by David Zarowin
Physics teacher Joshua Raghunath is changing the way Townsend Harris students learn Physics. Using innovative labs to teach students about gravity, ideal projectiles, and more, he hopes to instill a deeper understanding in the students while having fun. For example, he built an obstacle course in the gym to demonstrate the forces of impulse and momentum: “the Archery Tag Lab… [explains] why a heavier arrow receiving the same impulse from the bow flies further than the lighter arrow which would have a higher acceleration.”
The students formed teams of ten and competed in multiple rounds, trying to get out as many of their opponents while keeping their teammates in the game. The students from teams not participating in a given round filmed their friends shooting, and subsequently, getting hit, by foam arrows.
“There are several things that they look at: the maximum range the arrows fly, [comparing] the two different arrow types, and determining the velocity the arrows fire at,” Mr. R said.
What do the students think? According to Mr. R, they are pretty happy for the most part. “Mr. R’s labs are unorthodox but make the normal slightly dull lab procedures more enjoyable”, commented junior Alex Chen.
Sophomore Jaewoo Nam added, “[Mr.] R’s labs are really fun…considering how [Mr.] R can make any topic fun while still teaching is pretty amazing.” Even Mr. R himself wishes he could do more than just explain the rules, “they’re a lot of fun and I wish I could play around with them more.”
Whether these labs are beneficial to students’ studying, though, is as of now indeterminable. He believes in a few years down the road we will be able to tell. That being said, Mr. Raghunath plans to expand his program even further over the course of the next few years.