New ‘Spark’ to Science Department

2016 science spark banner 2Utilizing a grant awarded by the Cissna Park Education Foundation, the high school science department was able to purchase spark timers and hand crank generators for the physics program. With the New Illinois Science Standards being released, physics teacher Mr. Wacker has been working on updating equipment to provide a more engaging physics class. The new standards require more investigations and experimentation, therefore more equipment is needed.

The spark timers are very similar to what is called a ticker tape timer. Instead of using a pencil to mark on the tape, an electrical shock burns a mark into the tape to mark the rate of movement. In the attached pictures students were using the spark timers to measure the rate of acceleration due to gravity. The students dropped a mass and the rate of falling could be determined based on the number of marks and the distance in between those marks.

2016 science spark banner 1The other items purchased are hand crank generators. Although we have not performed any activities with the hand crank generators, there are multiple concepts that these devices can be used to learn. The most prevalent example would be how energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. As a student turns the crank, he or she is inputting mechanical energy that is being transformed into electrical energy. Experiencing this for himself/herself, students get a concrete example of how energy works. Other activities, that Mr. Wacker is excited to use these for include electrostatics, motor and generator relationships, and circuitry.

Thanks to these the incorporation of these devices, the physics can help students experience science, rather than memorized information. That is the ultimate goal that Mr. Wacker is working towards within the physics program. Science is not only a collective group of knowledge, but a method that is best learned while participating and experiencing its wonders. The Foundation is happy that we helped the Science Department reach these goals.