Physics Day

Pioneer Middle School students Joshua Viveros, 12, at left, Isaiah Davis, 13, middle, and Romero Vaca, 12, at right, concentrate on stacking cups on top of each other, with the help of a Tulare County Office of Education staff member at far left, during Physics Day at Porterville Fair Grounds on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

2019 Porterville Fair kicks off with Physics Day for area

middle schoolers

Having fun and learning science outside, what could be better? 

Being at the 2019 Porterville Fair riding carnival rides and experiencing G-forces on attractions like the Vertigo, The Crazy Train, and 101 Knots is certainly a good way to add an extra portion of ‘fun’ to fun learning.

About 250 students from seven middle schools around Tulare County did just that Wednesday morning, May 15, during Physics Day which has been sponsored by Tulare County Office of Education for the past four years.

Students gathered in front of the Rotary Stage and under a covered seating area to learn about important physics concepts before participating in a series of fun and engaging challenges and even gathering data while riding some of the rides.

“Physics Day is an opportunity for middle school students throughout the county to get some hands-on, minds-on experience with all things physics,” said Jared Marr, staff development and curriculum specialist for Tulare County Office of Education. “They’ll take everything they’ve learned all year and do some application with it.”

Marr explained that students rotate between 11 different physics challenges covering different areas of physics set up at tables and on the stage, during the morning, and they’ll get to apply what they learned in the classroom. After the students complete the challenges they go on three different rides at the fairgrounds and collect data using an application, then TCOE will collect data from the rides and will email back to teachers at their school sites, and the students will be able to analyze the physics data from the rides.

At the Barge Building station students were given a piece of aluminum foil and the goal of designing and building a miniature boat that would support as much cargo (glass pebbles) as possible without sinking.

Working with two paper cups and a cardboard roll, students at the Cup Speakers station created a speaker for their iPhones to experiment with acoustics and how sound travels. They were also challenged to consider how the cup speakers would impact the phone’s sound quality.

Students were engaged, entertained and well-behaved as they worked their way from station to station and made new friends with kids from other schools.

Students also engineered a pulley system using rubber bands and string to pick up and move plastic cups, and pile them on top of each other, the challenge was called Stack-Em. 

The Rocket Launch and Egg Drop were some of the most popular challenges, but the Stack-Em on the Rotary Stage was also pretty popular.

“This is our first year at Physics Day,” said Derrick Bravo, Principal and teacher at Outside Creek School, “Our school is 154 years old and is out in the country north of Lindsay. This is a great learning experience for our children. There are a lot of hands-on activities that foster their intellectual growth while the kids are having fun. Hands-on fun science outside of the classroom. That’s a great combination, combining the Porterville Fair and science learning. Going on the rides helps the students think about science concepts that are being applied, or are occurring on the rides, like gravity, speed, potential energy, friction, and kinetic energy.”

Student Alexia Avitia, 14, said, “This is really exciting to learn about physical science and new things.”

TCOE Board member Chris Reed said the county is looking for a way to get kids interested in math and science and said, “Physics Days is a great way for students to have fun with math, physics, and science, and what a better way, than at the Porterville Fair.”

Jayleen Mejia, 13, a seventh grader from Pioneer Middle School, said, “It takes a lot of work,” after she built a tower using colorful plastic straws. “But with a good mindset, you can do it.” 

Students built rockets using only manila envelopes and masking tape, then pumped a plastic pipe full of air with a bike pump (some stronger students reached 100 p.s.i.) and launched it skyward.

Students had to consider a variety of factors in their design, including aerodynamics, lift, drag and mass. Students scrambled to launch their rockets and there were multiple launches going on at the same time. 

After an hour of experimenting at the stations, the students gathered together to receive instructions for the highlight of the day: collecting data with high-tech vests while they rode three amusement rides: Vertigo, Turbo and Quasar.

Marr explained that a device inside the vests will record velocity, acceleration and other forces experienced by its wearer in three dimensions, then transmit it to computers so students can graph and study the results back in class.

Thursday is Special Friends day at the fair, and invited community members with special needs will be treated to an exclusive showing of fair events and attractions in the morning. Thursday evening a full day of judging will conclude with the selection of this year’s Grand Champions hog, lamb, meat goat and steer at 6 p.m.

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