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Future scientists explore their passions

Physics 2 projects contribute tools for incoming students

By Robyn McLuen

For their final project in AP Physics 2, RAHS upperclassmen have been tasked with an open-ended assignment to create a helpful project, whether it be for their own benefit or for the benefit of future students.


Seniors Kaeden Wile and Matt Vredevoogd have created a simulator that will help students in the coming years in one of the key focus areas of the class.


“Kaeden and I are making a thermodynamics simulator for students,” said Vredevoogd. “Thermodynamics is the study of thermal energy, and it’s one of the first units in AP Physics 2.”


They created an interface that will allow students to experiment with thermodynamics and the components of the ideal gas law.


“Essentially we are just implementing a JavaScript function that generates an output for the ideal gas law PV=nRT given a variety of user inputs,” said Vredevoogd. “We think that our simulator will be helpful for future students because it’s easy to understand. It’s a clean UI (User Interface) that provides concise quantitative feedback.”


Both Vredevoogd and Wile are excited about using coding to help future students.


“We are both interested in web development,” said Vredevoogd. “It was a fun experience to put together a powerful, but easy to use tool for future physics students to use.”


Like his fellow seniors, Benton Smith is working on something that combines his own passions and what he’s learned about thermodynamics to create a tool for incoming classes.


“I am building a 3D-printable model of a 2-stroke engine,” said Smith, “alongside a presentation of the internal workings and the physics behind the way this engine works.”


Smith believes his model will help future students understand something that this year’s class had difficulty understanding.


“When Mr. McComb was bringing up the physics of the internal combustion engine in class, I feel that a lot of the physics went over the class’s head because they couldn’t visualize what was going on,” said Smith. “With this model, Mr. McComb can have a teaching tool to model what is going on when an engine revs, and I can build something I think is really cool.”


Originally, Smith had a different idea for his project. However, due to classroom restrictions, he decided to take a different approach.


“My initial idea with this project was to build a working model of an internal combustion engine, with a simple mechanical distributor and a lathe-bored cylinder,” said Smith, “but Mr. McComb was not a big fan of this idea, as I could easily blow a couple of my fingers off. So, we brainstormed together and came to the conclusion that a 3D-printed model would be much safer and far less dangerous.”


Smith chose to create this model not only to help future physics classes, but to allow him to explore his own passions.


“I’ve been working on cars my whole life, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” said Smith. “I doubt I’ll be working on engines as a career, but I think they’re really cool.”


Senior Joey Meboe is also designing a tool to help students understand a difficult topic from the first portion of the year.


“I am making a new science lab [experiment],” said Meboe. “In the lab, the student will learn how to make a capacitor. They’re a big part of physics. Charged particles are held apart to make a difference in potential [voltage].”


Future students aren’t the only people who will benefit from this project. Meboe hopes to further his own understanding of the more complex components of electricity.


“[I designed this project because] I love the idea of using capacitors instead of batteries,” said Meboe. “Also, I needed to learn more about capacitors.”

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