Let’s get physical

Elise Truman, Online Editor

Every Tuesday, a group of young, science-minded students gets together to do exciting physics projects. They spend their time furthering their physics knowledge and applying it practically.

The physics club uses its knowledge to build structures like their tensegrity structure or parabolic mirror. They also use it to expand their understanding of the world.

“I love learning [physics] because I get to understand how the world works. I’ve always been one with a lot of questions, I just love hearing the answers to them through the physics teacher and the other students,” said junior William Thompson.

“Right now we’re building tensegrity structure, it’s all about tension and figuring out what forces acting where so that we can have those long, wooden poles actually suspended by cable alone,” senior Celia Montufar said.

A tensegrity structure is an object that uses opposing forces and tension to maintain its integrity. They began by building smaller individual structures but have now graduated to a giant collaborative structure.

“Then there’s the parabolic mirror, we use that to melt copper out of a penny, melt zinc out of a penny… we also roast marshmallows,” Montufar added.

A parabolic mirror looks like a giant, inverted disco ball. The rays from the mirror increase temperatures and can melt metal, or in dire circumstances, marshmallows.

Photo by Elise Truman
Senior Celia Montufar stands next to her clubs parabolic mirror, which they use to generate heat rays to melt any object that they’re allowed to.

Physics helps to explain the rules of the world, and it can lend clarity to those who desire it, and all of the club members are burning to learn more.

“I’ve just always loved seeing how things work with science and experimenting with it. But I’m not necessarily good at doing it myself. And so by being in physics club, I have the chance to do experiments that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do at home, or that I wouldn’t have thought otherwise,” Symalla said.

She joined her father Dennis Symalla’s physics club to get more hands-on experience, much like senior Celia Montufar.

“When you do labs, in your science classes, they’re very structured. It’s like, here are the steps that you follow. This is what you need to do,” Montufar said.

Montufar believes that labs in class are too structured to get the full idea, while Symalla believes that working alone at home is too free to really give the intended result. The physics club is the midpoint for these two.

“It sort of makes the world start making sense. not totally, but you start to learn, hey, this is why this happens. Maybe not everything is as mysterious as I thought it was,” junior Sarah Symalla added.

The physics club isn’t all work all the time though, “[sometimes] it’s just work, work, work when we’re doing something and have to get it done. There isn’t a lot of conversation going on. But once we get more relaxed, we can get pretty funny,” Thompson said.

Clubs and activities foster a bond between its members. In a “nerd club,” as Montufar put it, the students all share the same love of physics.

Often, students see physics as just another class they need to take, get a grade, and forget about. The physics club tries to cement knowledge by giving its members practical experience. The physics club meets every Tuesday in Symalla’s room and is welcome to new members.