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Showing Brendan Noon

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First Place

9-12 | Science & Tech | Video Production

Station WXXI in New York

My Classroom Innovation

I have been having my physics students build pumpkin launchers in order to study 2-dimensional projectile motion since 2005. Rules, grading rubrics, and videos from past competitions can be found on my website at: This STEM activity involves having students work in groups to design and build a device that will launch a 2 kg pumpkin a minimum distance of 5 meters. Students must write a report describing the engineering principles used in the creation of their pumpkin launchers, collect data while they test and modify their launchers, then compete against other students and use their data to complete a lab report on 2-dimensional motion. Since 2007, winners from the high school competition have been invited to compete against college engineering students in their pumpkin launch competitions ( ), even appearing on the news nationally, in 2007, while competing against engineering students from the Illinois Institute of Technology. ( ) This competition is only one in a series of project-based activities found in every unit of my physics curriculum. I believe that these project-based competitions are innovative since they engage student’s competitive nature while performing the same data collection and calculations found in the classic physics laboratory. I have also created a wide range of innovative multimedia web resources to help my students learn more about the basic principles of 2-dimensional motion while they prepare for their competition. Some of these innovative web resources that I have created are my stop-motion video demonstrations, interactive animated learning modules, and self grading online study quizzes, In addition to my online resources student also use a variety of PBS resources suchas taking notes while watching NOVA: Medieval Siege and NOVA: Galileo’s Battle for the Heaven’s. Student’s also learned about projectile motion from a computer simulated lab activity found on PBS Teacher’s and by performing activities found on the Georgia Public Broadcasting website at:

How Students were Engaged

This project has been a favorite activity of my student’s since it was first performed in 2005. Students look forward to the competition years before they enroll in my physics course. Students are engaging by building, competing and collecting Data as visible in this video ( ). They show gains by testing and modifying their pumpkin launchers for maximum range using the fundamental concepts discussed in class. Some students even place their project design tests on YouTube for others to see, Students demonstrate practical application of their knowledge through their engineering design and laboratory write-ups. Students are later tested on their understanding of 2-dimensional motion with interactive online assessments.

PBS Program/Content Used

NOVA: Medieval Siege