Monday, July 9, 2012

Ryan the Jedi

This week of class covers second semester physics, so basically it’s our electricity and magnetism unit. This was the hardest unit for me to understand during high school physics, probably because it wasn’t easy for me to intuitively grasp the concepts behind the science, like I could for kinematics and forces. I did my high school physics project on RC circuits, so I think that definitely helped me gain a better understanding of the topic. I was pleasantly surprised today to find that I felt better about the E&M stuff than I had all last week, probably thanks to that physics project.

Ryan pushes a balloon with
PBC pipe–without touching it!
The morning lecture was interspersed with demos and mini labs. Ryan, one of our teachers, showed off his Jedi magic by moving balloons and paper without touching them. We were then invited to try some “magic” ourselves by doing a partner lab with Scotch tape, which can be charged by ripping apart two pieces of tape. In the afternoon, we did a lab with circuits, getting firsthand experience about Ohm’s Law. In our lab, we investigated the change on a graph of voltage vs. current when we adjusted the resistance in the circuit. We also investigated whether or not the shape of the resistor mattered, by using a hunk of Play-Doh as a resistor. It’s good to know that all those hours of playtime when I was six weren’t wasted. 
Clara tests the attraction between two pieces of tape

As it was a new week, we got new lab groups. I miss my old group, since we were just starting to know each other a bit better, but since everyone in this program is really smart I know that this lab group will be awesome too. We’ll learn more about E&M tomorrow, as well as listen to guest speaker Dr. Don Thomas, a former astronaut.

Bill charges a balloon by rubbing it with fur

 Our dining experiences were a little weird today, as there were a lot of new arrivals for other programs. The dining halls were much busier than usual, and I had to wait in a much longer line than I usually do in order to get lunch. Of course, then I started thinking about how long the lines must get when there are thousands of college students on campus, as opposed to 200+ high school kids. Maybe I’ll just stockpile lots of food in my room when I’m in college.

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