Feb 19, 2018

PHSN’s Team Physics Takes Show On the Road

Team Physics students break a cement block in the name of teaching science

Skateboards and pogo sticks. Flames, heat, and crushing metal cans. Cement blocks being crushed on a student’s chest while that student rests on a bed of nails.

And flying monkeys. Never forget the flying monkeys.

All that and more excitement and fun are part of the show each year as Pickerington High School North’s Team Physics hits the road, visiting the district’s elementary and middle schools to build excitement for science.

“The purpose of this is to show kids in the elementary and middle schools that we have a lot of fun doing science in the high schools,” said teacher Doug Forrest, who leads the students on these annual trips to the schools. “You can learn and have fun while doing it.”

The original Team Physics road show began nearly 20 years ago, soon after Forrest began work in the district. Each year, the show brings back old standby experiments with some refreshing new twists. Favorites include lessons in inertia – including a swinging bowling ball that narrowly misses one student’s nose – and a hovercraft capable of transporting a student across the gymnasium floor.

“Physics can be a really challenging course,” Forrest said. “I think it’s important to show there are aspects of it that are really fun and can relate to people of all ages.”

Usually, the shows go off as expected, but occasionally something might go slightly awry. The students have to be prepared to handle – and explain – that, too.

“Science don’t always work every time,” Forrest said. “We have to do a lot of practices, and then we have to think about what we should do or how should we answer questions if things don’t work.”

Junior Jake Toohey said he has wanted to be part of this merry band of science performers since seeing the Team Physics show when he was in elementary school.

“This is a way to show kids this is fun, just like we were shown when we were growing up when Team Physics came to see us,” he said. “I think we’ve kind of been waiting to join a long time.”

Toohey said being a part of this show takes commitment outside the classroom, as practices happen on nights and weekends.

Senior Havelah Kusi said she and the other students must understand the physics underlying their performance in order to explain it to the younger students – and answer any questions those kids may have. Tusi said the work is well worth it, seeing students learn while enjoying the show.

She appreciates that it may be particularly important as a female physics student to set an example for the young girls in the audience.

“I definitely think programs like this that introduce females like this into the STEM fields at a very early age definitely encourage more activity,” she said. “We give up a lot of time to be on this team, but it’s definitely worth it.”