Monday’s late winter snow storm was put to good use by a pair of Advanced Placement Physics classes at Huntington High School, which went sleigh riding to advance their knowledge of science.
Veteran teacher Stacey Byrnes brought her classes outside in the snow for an outside-the-box lab experience. The teenagers gathered at the top of a hill near the Coach Cuppernull tennis court complex. That’s when the lesson and the fun began in earnest.
Huntington physics teacher Stacey Byrnes.
Students loved going outside for the special class. “It was a great way to get away from the stress of the classroom and have some fun with friends,” Henry Cartwright said. The classes discussed how participants decelerated due to friction and then calculated the deceleration.
“The whole class definitely enjoyed the experience,” said Hadley Clayton, valedictorian of Huntington’s Class of 2019. “We were thrilled to see concepts we learned in the classroom at play, while at the same time having fun sledding.”
The students were completely engaged in the lesson, which no one will soon forget. “It was a low friction day on the mountain and our potential energy converted into kinetic energy perfectly,” Ms. Byrnes said. “The velocity they picked up at the bottom of the hill put smiles on the faces of all my students. It was definitely a physics lesson that none of my students will soon forget.”
Ms. Byrnes has always enjoyed labs that incorporate hands-on learning. “It was really fun,” Marissa Stafford said. “There were so many laughs and it was a great way to take advantage of the snow. Other than it being a time of enjoyment we also were able to calculate the velocities of us sledding down the hill, which was a great way to incorporate physics into it. I wouldn’t have liked to spend this snowy day any other way.”
The teenagers embraced the hands-on learning opportunity. “The sledding activity was a great way to apply the concepts we learned in class to an enriching and overall fun snow experience,” Kaitlyn Sage said. “Through our sledding, we analyzed how initial speed, mass and other variables impacted the final speed of the sled at the bottom of the hill. In class, we are going to calculate mathematically how fast we actually went using our recordings and measured data. This experience was incredibly helpful to visualize how physics effects and is present in everyday life and how the calculations we do in class can actually be applicable to the real world.”
The March snow storm offered the perfect environment for the unique outdoor lab. “Sleigh riding was such a fun experience, considering we got to do it as a class,” John Panos said. “Doing things like this really just shows students that physics literally has to do with everything. I think Ms. Byrnes has such a cool style of teaching and I can’t wait to see what else we will be doing.”
Ms. Byrnes graduated Rutgers University (Cook College and the College of Engineering) with a five year dual Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering. She worked as an engineer and received a Professional Engineering license in civil engineering before returning to school for Master of Education degree at Dowling College, which she earned in 2002. She has been working at Huntington High School ever since.