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Watch the Hovercrafts in action
What happens when you ask 40 Little Elm High School students to build a hovercraft that can carry at least one student 30 meters? You get eight homemade flying machines. Well, technically, the machines did not fly in the air, but on the air. The project was in Mary Rosa's AP Physics class who believes to constantly raise the bar by challenging her students' critical thinking skills and creating an environment where students can create using those skills. Ben Scott, an 11th grader, put those critical thinking skills to work during the class's testing phase of their hovercraft.
"What we're doing is showing how our homemade vehicles negates a lot of force factors. It's going to show a lot of physics attributes and how we will use air to decrease friction," said Scott. "We constructed a circle using wood because it's easier for air to flow that way, but the challenging part was to figure out how to seal the air in the skirt." The skirt is an inflatable piece assembled to the bottom of the hovercraft.
Each student group was judged on certain criteria: on its construction and creation of an air pocket, hover for short bursts of time, has bumpers for elastic collisions, has a hand brake, and an installed seat belt. The project consists of building the hovercraft, conducting trials to collect data, and then giving a video lab report. The video lab report will show and explain the students' process on the design and construction of the hovercraft, explain the physics fundamentals i which allows a hovercraft to behave the way it does, and explain the calculations and results during the engineering process.
Senior McKayla Mateer loved the project but was intimidated by it at first. "It seemed like a lot to take on but as we kept going through it, the steps we went through got easier and the three laws became easier and now we have working hovercraft. Ours was spider-man themed, which was pretty cool. We proved that spider-man is the best superhero. It went 57 meters. The goal was 30 meters. We exceeded that goal," she said.
AP Physics is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course where students cultivate their understanding of physics through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics such as Newtonian mechanics, work, energy, and power. Twenty-five percent of the instructional time is spent in hands-on lab work.