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Physics Kicks Off 2019 with Balloon-Car Race

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Raima Islam '21
11 January 2019


A student's car moving across the hallway; photo credit: Raima Islam '21 Every year, Physics and Physics Honors hold their balloon-car race, challenging students to engineer a car powered by just a balloon. The challenge becomes a competition between the students to see who can make the fastest moving or the furthest travelling car.

The competition, which has become tradition at PV, was established to teach students about how force works. "I want students to combine everything together and to look into how [physics] works in everyday life," stated physics teacher Ms. Elena Shtraks.

The students must manufacture a car that can move straight and travel at least ten meters. A balloon must be used to propel the car. There is no time limit, but the student with the fastest cars are named one of the winners. Other winners are determined by the distances of their cars.

The competition took place on January 7th and 8th. Each student tested his/her car in the hallway near Room 210 and the service elevator. Some students volunteered to measure the distance of the students' cars, while others timed them. The times and distances were recorded and the winners were determined on Tuesday January 8th.

Junior Joseph DiTaranto's car won for travelling the furthest,The winning design of Joseph DiTaranto '20; photo credit: Raima Islam '21 managing to travel twenty-seven meters. "It felt fulfilling to win. Initially, I looked at this project as just another deadline. However, my attitude changed as I started to have more fun with it," expressed DiTaranto. "I think that students who aspire to break my record should try to have as much fun with it as possible, and also try to use this as an opportunity to relax."

Michaela Raguseo '20 also designed a car that travelled over twenty meters. Her car took many tweaks to perfect, but her persistence kept her going. "I think it is important to do this project, not only to present how force works, but to teach students about determination. This project was not the easiest but it was definitely one of my favorite," Raguseo claimed. "When doing this project, I learned more about trial and error. Everyone enjoyed watching each others’ cars roll through the hallway and enjoyed watching their car pass the ten meter line."

Christie Ack '20 and Andre Grabowski '20 came in second place for distance, with their cars travelling nineteen meters. The third place winners were Gabriel Jurkic '20 and Lexie DeLuca '20, accomplishing eighteen meters. Euro May '19 had one of the fastest cars, moving quicker than three meters per second. One honorable mention went to Khushabu Patel '20 for having a good car design and A student testing his car; photo credit: Raima Islam '21 distance. All were given certificates and congratulated for their success.

Overall, the project was an experience many of the students enjoyed. Not only did it teach students about physics, but it also ignited a much greater interest in the subject for many. "[The project] helps us apply physics in a real life scenario and into a project that is fun," stated Jerry Sevillano '20. "It helps us want to learn more about physics I believe."