Fifty middle-school students from Edward W. Bok Academy in Lake Wales received some basic lessons in physics while having fun during a recent field trip to Florida Polytechnic University, where they participated in an egg drop challenge and launched marshmallows with catapults they built.
Dr. Susan LeFrancois, an Assistant Professor of Science and Logistics at Florida Poly, provided the students a tour of the University’s Innovation, Science & Technology Building and its 11 innovation labs. The seventh- and eighth-graders then were invited to organize into teams and take part in two hands-on science projects.
First the students built their own catapults and tested different angles by launching mini marshmallows and Sweet Tarts as projectiles. “They were able to use some of the University’s physics lab equipment to show them the difference in trajectory of their projectile when additional force is added to the mini marshmallows and Sweet Tarts,” Dr. LeFrancois explained.
Next, the students participated in an egg drop challenge. The students received a kit with supplies that included two balloons, a pair of Florida Poly purple rubber gloves, two take-out containers, string and a plastic bag. They had 30 minutes to work with their partner to construct a contraption to protect their egg when it was dropped from the second-floor balcony of the Innovation, Science & Technology Building.
“The goal of these fun projects was for the students to learn some principles of physics and engineering while working in teams and using their creativity,” Dr. LeFrancois said. “I wanted them to realize that science is not just about learning principles, it is about working with others and using your imagination.”
Nicole Sealey, a teacher with Bok Academy, proclaimed the May 28 field trip to Florida Poly a big success. “From the second the kids laid eyes on the campus, they were enchanted,” she said. “Everything was planned out perfectly, the kids were highly engaged, and a wonderful and educational time was had by all.”